Stealth (Comme des voleurs) is the latest film from queer Swiss filmmaker Lionel Baier, whose debut drama Stupid Boy (Garçon Stupide) made a splash on the queer film festival circuit in 2005.
Pulling triple duty —as writer, director, and star —Baier presents a story about the nature of identity which is at times prescient and touching, at others sloppy and confusing.
Baier plays Lionel, a gay Swiss man who discovers one day that his maternal grandfather was a Polish migrant. He quickly develops a mania for all things Polish —food, football games, language —and begins associating with the underclass of illegal migrant workers who fuel Switzerland’s economy.
When he meets a Polish au pair who is in danger of being deported, he invites her to live with him in a sham marriage, much to the annoyance of his boyfriend whom he unceremoniously boots from his bed and his apartment.
Lionel’s sister Lucie tries to cure him of his Polish fetish by dragging him along on a road trip to Warsaw, where he can perhaps learn the true identity of the grandfather he never knew.
Over the course of the trip, we learn that Lionel values his newfound Polish identity because he chose it, rather than having it thrust upon him, as his Swiss identity was —and, presumably, his gay identity. And yet throughout the film Lionel manipulates his own sexuality to whatever best suits him, navigating a tricky line between nature and choice.
Unfortunately, the film peters out toward the end, leaving many plot threads dangling and the feeling that the whole trip was quite pointless, despite it being an entertaining romp. The film also suffers from a terribly melodramatic score and some dodgy translations from the original French (typified in the film’s terribly generic English title).
What was wrong with Like Thieves?