Les Garçons Sauvages | 2017 | Directed by Bertran Mandico
Logline: After five adolescent boys commit a savage crime they are punished, sent to a strange remote island, mistreated by a cruel captain along the way.
If you can imagine a movie born from the theatrical stylistics of Guy Maddin, the lurid transgressions of Kenneth Anger, and the surreal symbolism of David Lynch, you might be able to fathom the inherent weirdness, the icky uniqueness of this tale of morality, sexuality, and identity. It’s a most heady, intellectual concoction, given a deep pantomime touch, full of confronting moments bathed in a dream-like fabric.
Unlike anything you’ve seen - or felt - before.
Set in what feels like an alternate early 20th Century five teenage boys (played by young adult women, Pauline Lorillard, Vimala Pons, Diane Rouxel, Anaël Snoek, and Mathilde Warnier) collude with the aid of the occult - a deity known as TREVOR - and commit a sexual assault on a woman, and, subsequently, find themselves on trial and sentenced to an unusual punishment. They must set sail on a tiny, dilapidated boat, with a disgruntled bearded Captain (Sam Louwyk) who has his own agenda and strict rules.
Eventually they arrive at their destination, a small, lush island, covered with thick vegetation that mimics human sexual anatomy. They are forced to continue eating the hairy, juicy (passion)fruit they were introduced to during their sentencing, which grows in abundance on the island. It is here that the Captain is reunited with Severin(e) (Elina Löwensohn) who has her own strange story and agenda.
The island, La Réunion, is bewitched, and it is here that the five troublemakers will be confronted with their own demons, both real and imagined, masculine and feminine. It’s a dangerous and seductive place, endowed with powerful transgressive properties, and as such, the boys will slowly be transformed.
Shot on 16mm, using vivid colour and high contrast monochrome, and a combination of real locations and very obvious sets, it’s Greg Arakki channeling Federico Fellini in French on class and gender, a rich, but difficult metaphor for contemporary times, using old school filmmaking techniques. It is simultaneously compelling and repellent, a lurid, homoerotic edge twisting into bold and surprising new para-sexual presentations.
The Wild Boys will fill your water cooler conversation and, no doubt, inhabit your dreams, maybe even your nightmares, as this is a horror movie where the hirsute grotesque is bedfellows with the spurting sensual. It’s an exotic brew for acquired, adventurous tastes, and will reward a sweet and savoury palette by the time it reaches its delightfully perverse denouement.
Mandico elicits excellent performances from his cast, and the command of his stylistic flourish is exemplary, definitely a movie to be lingered upon and relished like the best of enigmatic fringe fare. Oh, and hang around to the end of the credits for a little extra biscuit.
Future is woman, future is sorceress.