One of the boldest aesthetic statements in recent French cinema,Wild Boys is a gender-bending, influence-scrambling adventure tale about five teenage miscreants sent on a boat journey with a mysterious Dutch captain who has promised to bring them back to their parents as obedient boys—or not at all. What the Captain hasn’t mentioned is that his innovative therapy relies on a visit to an island where the earth opens up to envelop humans in its warm grasp, where trees reach out to kiss or kill you, and where males transform into females.
Boldly going against the prevailing winds of naturalist cinema, self-described queer filmmaker Bertrand Mandico cast five of France’s most talented young actresses to play the boys and immersed them in a
seamless blend of luxuriant island locations and unabashedly artificial
sets, creating a manifesto for narrative and aesthetic freedom in which
a slew of influences (Joseph Von Sternberg, R.L. Stevenson, Jean
Genet, Raúl Ruiz, Kenneth Anger) add up to a film unlike anything
we’ve seen before. Shot on gorgeous 35 mm black and white film with
occasional bursts of dazzling color, Wild Boys is a potent reminder
that the radical power of art begins in the formal gesture.
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