Eastern Boys

"Good"

Eastern Boys Review


An extremely topical theme and unpredictable characters hold the audience's attention even when this French drama takes some rather implausible turns. Shot and performed with earthy honesty, the film grapples with prickly situations in ways that are both enlightening and somewhat frustrating to watch. But by refusing to go where expected, writer-director Robin Campillo tells a story that can't help but add a personal angle to the immigration debate.

In Paris, Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) is a middle-aged nice guy intrigued by a gang of Eastern European guys hanging around the Gare du Nord. Specifically, he finds himself dawn to Marek (Kirill Emelyanov), and eventually gets the nerve to invite him to his flat. But Marek turns up with the entire gang in tow, and they proceed to steal pretty much everything from Daniel's home. The next day, Marek comes back alone and apologetic, and Daniel reluctantly agrees to talk to him. As they begin a regular routine as rentboy and client, Daniel decides that maybe he can help Marek break free from the gang leader they call Boss (Daniil Vorobyev).

Even though it ends up as a somewhat contrived thriller, the film's shifting moods are fascinating as they evoke strong responses from the characters and the audience. In the beginning, the horror of Daniel's situation gives way to a rather sweet and messy friendship that's tricky to categorise. Is he in love with Marek or just lusting after him? Or perhaps something completely different is going on here. Campillo enjoys keeping the audience off balance, which can feel rather elusive, especially when something happens that's difficult to believe. But the film so provocative that it's worth the effort.

Even so, for what's essentially a dramatic freak-out, the tone is strangely muted, giving little insight into the characters. It's not easy to understand what Daniel sees in Marek, but Rabourdin's performance continually hints at deeper motivations, while Emelyanov has a thoughtful personality that's likeable in offbeat ways. But the film only really comes to life when the fiery Vorobyev is on-screen with his piercing blue eyes and lean physical menace. He provides the energy that drives the somewhat clunky final act, powering right through the gaps in logic and inexplicable behaviour to an ending that cleverly forces us to confront our own reactions and feelings about these people, even if it's difficult to care how things turn out for them. But more importantly, the film almost inadvertently encourages us to consider our response to foreigners who live all around us.

 



Eastern Boys

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Hugues Charbonneau, Marie-Ange Luciani

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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