You’ll Be a Man (Tu seras un home) is a delightful French film that, among other things, focuses on the conflict between conventional and unconventional lifestyles. As a person of an unconventional nature myself (my own assessment), I found the filmmaker’s manner of addressing the subject quite intriguing.
Twenty-year-old Theodore (Jules Sagot) has it rough. Failing to get accepted into a Parisian drama school, he faces not only the prospect of not being able to pay his bills, but also of losing his girlfriend (who did get accepted and is soon to depart for the French capital).
He solves some of his problem by getting a job as the babysitter of 10–year old Leonard (Aurelio Cohen), whose life has been altered by an accident he had when he was just five-years-old. His serious, hard-working dad wastes no time in warning the baby-sitter about his son:
“He is not like the other kids. He doesn’t swim, run or ride a bike. But he reads a lot.”
Although ten years older than Leonard, Theodore is a boy at heart and he soon wins Leonard’s friendship and appreciation by treating him as an equal. Director Benoit Cohen juxtaposes the relationship that develops between the two boys with that of the one between Leonard and his father who, while trying his best to provide for the family, dismisses most of the accomplishments of his son as juvenile, rendering them inferior in value in comparison to his own important professional life.
You’ll Be a Man is filmed predominately using an indirect subjective view, but also with an abundant use of close-up shots that allows the viewer to become more intimate with the feelings and emotions portrayed by the characters on screen. The focus lies mainly on the development of Leonard’s character as the result of his being treated as a person instead of “a prisoner in his own home“ – which is just about his status as a result of the overprotective parenting practiced by his father. The role of voluntary prisoner is assumed by another person who also inhibits the house …
Theodore becomes not only a friend but also a role model for the young boy. Yet the father (Gregoire Monsaingeon), who initially encouraged closeness between the babysitter and son, soon grows envious as he feels he has been replaced as an object of appreciation by Leo. Additionally, being a serious, hard working man like himself, he begins to view the cheery flamboyant nature of the babysitter as a threat to his son’s future development.
The story of the film and its conflicts are quite true to life and Director Cohen impresses by managing to showcase the dramatic importance in even the simplest everyday decisions. Aided by skillful editing and a moody soundtrack (that features great songs with both English and Spanish lyrics), he also managed to capture the essence of the emotions that his characters feel in the situations in which they find themselves.
Cohen cast his son Aurelio in one of the lead roles of his film – a justifiable decision based on the charm and talent of the young actor and the chemistry between him and Jules Sagot. The rest of the members of the cast also deliver excellent performances.
You’ll Be a Man is a film that leaves the viewer charged with positive emotions, especially taking into account that not all of the happenings in the film are of a happy nature. The film is a mixture of several genres – a bit of comedy, character study, drama and it’s also a road movie. It doesn’t excel in any one genre in particular nor does it carry important morals of truth about life (other than the need to find balance in everything we do), yet it still remains a pleasant film to see.
As a person who opposes conformity, I found the film more entertaining than people who believe in a strict following of social rules. That might be another factor you may consider when you make the choice of watching the film or not.
You’ll Be a Man Official Trailer ( in French )