BEFORE I FORGET (French, with English subtitles) is an intentionally stark portrait of an ageing male, Pierre (played by Jacques Nolot, who also wrote and directed the film).
Pierre was a hustler in his younger days. Now 60 years old, a transposition occurs, as it is him who pays for hustlers. Indeed, financial transactions of one sort or another play a central role in shaping Pierre's current life: quantities of cash exchanged for hustlers, money left on the table at his thrice-weekly psychoanalyst visits, payments to lawyers, doctors, and insurance companies, meals eaten alone in restaurants; and - of particular importance to Pierre - the ongoing question of whether he will inherit from a much older man whom he 'serviced' back when he was still a hustler.
Naturally there is a broader theme here (the circulation of global capital, creating transactions in place of encounters); yet Pierre appears to positively revel in the tired banality of his day-to-day life. Endless cigarettes, mundane tasks, exchanging complaints with other elderly men, repetition of people and rehashing old conversations. This ambivalence emerges through his 'public' and 'private' faces: at home, he is unkempt, sleepless, inert; out in public, he becomes dapper, composed and artfully graceful.
"Stupidity kills novelty as surely as routine kills love." Pierre has neither love nor novelty; routine, repetition, serve as intentional self-punishment. He embraces them, as he welcomes stupidity. His numerous roles, representations (particularly highlighted in the seemingly polar contrast between the opening and closing scenes), are staged, marionette-like; perhaps that's all that is left.
BEFORE I FORGET met with understandable success on the festival circuit (and undoubtedly could feature prominently in any film studies course). How well it will be received by mainstream audiences remains to be seen - themes of repetition, monotony, gradual decay, tend not to have popular appeal. Still, it's a pensive, ruminating work, and it is to be hoped that its autobiographical intimacy will command attention from some.