There is a deceptive oddness to Bertrand Mandico’s 2018 Queer Fantasy film The Wild Boys (Les Garcons Sauvages). On the one hand, we have a cautionary novella that explores the relationship between masculinity and violence, and on the other, an otherworldly fable that explores hyper-sexuality with sublime visuals that match.
As punishment for a despicable assault, five teenage boys are sent out to sea in a ship lead by a strange, abusive man known as The Captain (Sam Louwyck) in the efforts of becoming docile. Daring in its approach, there is a bizarre fascination with sexuality in this Lord-of-the-Flies-erotic-delusion-fever-dream, with acts of arousal and sexual humiliation peppered throughout The Wild Boys.
The boys’ pursuit for pleasure is despicable, with all their non-consensual sexual experiences done-so without any remorse and celebrated as if to recognise the toxicity in male sexual conquest. Experimental in its approach, female actors portray all the boys in the film – most of which is done convincingly if not set-up to be intentionally questionable on Mandico’s part – and builds towards a later scene in The Wild Boys that will go down as one of the strangest transformation sequences seen from a 2018 film.
It is not until we are drawn to a mysterious island flowing with an abundance of anatomically inspired items does The Wild Boys begin to explore the notion of non-binary sexuality, if not to comment on the destructiveness of masculinity and the liberation in sexual freedom. If you also go into The Wild Boys not expecting to see any scenes involving urination, then you will be in for a big surprise as it features heavily, and frequently, throughout.
As peculiar the take on specific themes is in The Wild Boys, it is hard to ignore the exquisite sharpness in the cinematography with the visuals changing colour schemes at the same tempo of the waves crashing against the ship. The use of fantastical elements to personify the dangers of aggressive masculinity via a deity named Trevor is done-so impeccably and functions as a compelling plot device to signify the boys’ descent into aggression.
Regardless if you have already seen the film or have read the script, nothing will prepare you for the bizarre viewing experience of The Wild Boys and its wildly fanciful take on gender and sexuality.
The Wild Boys screens as part of the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival. For more information, screening locations and times, visit: www.affrenchfilmfestival.org for details.
Image: The Wild Boys (supplied)
Review: Hagan Osborne