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Formally fascinating and sexually frank, the audacious latest from director Robin Campillo takes us to the edge of discomfort as it presents a middle-aged Frenchman’s entanglement with a group of young Eastern European hustlers — and gives way to a love story with a conscience.
When a middle-aged Frenchman cruises
the Gare du Nord one day and solicits a
young foreigner, little does he know how
his life is going to change. After making a
date to meet at his apartment the next day,
Daniel is goggle-eyed when a different —
and clearly underaged — youth knocks at
his door. Before the older man has time to
catch his breath, the youngster recites to
him the implications of being caught with
a minor. Within minutes, a motley gang of
toughs walk brazenly into his chic apartment
and make it their own. So begins
Robin Campillo's daring look at modern day
France and how some immigrants — in
this case a mix of Russians, Ukrainians,
and other Eastern Europeans — survive in
their new country.
Eastern Boys is a formally fascinating film.
For one thing, it's not afraid of the extended
sequence, something it has in common
with Blue Is the Warmest Colour (also at the
Festival). And, like that film, it is also unafraid
of explicit sexuality. We are forced, often to
the edge of discomfort, to look, as Campillo
traces Daniel's strange and affecting voyage
through the nightmare that becomes his
life. There are also unexpected twists, as the
director skilfully navigates the labyrinthine
world in which his protagonist is lost.
A love story with a social conscience,
Eastern Boys confronts an issue at the
forefront of the European project. Never
didactic, often audacious, always brave,
and fiercely performed by veteran Olivier
Rabourdin and a group of unknowns,
Campillo's film moves us along a trajectory
that can only have one of two outcomes.
- Robin Campillo
- Robin Campillo is well known as the
co-writer of Laurent Cantet's features
L'Emploi du temps (01), Vers le sud
(05), and Foxfire (12), all of which
screened at the Festival. He has
directed the features Les Revenants
(04) and Eastern Boys (13).