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F. est un salaud
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Reviews & Ratings for
Fögi Is a Bastard More at IMDbPro »F. est un salaud (original title)

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27 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

9/10

9/10
Author: desperateliving from Canada
6 February 2005

Judging by the few IMDb votes this film has, and the fact that it's seven years old, it appears that this one escaped the consciousness of even the gay audience, which is a shame, because it's actually very good. Its emotional detail is just about note for note on target. I'd put it in the same class with "Edge of Seventeen," a deceptively simple movie with the same kind of quiet, intelligent emotional resonance. (I'm looking forward to see if I can get some of Gisler's other movies, which looks like it may be a task.)

The film starts, "Sunset Boulevard"-style, with a tragedy, but luckily the film proper is fully fleshed-out -- it doesn't feel like an afterthought; it's more like the framing device used is a nice little stylistic device. It doesn't need to be there, but it doesn't detract, either. I felt while watching it that the film would make a very good book -- and it was based on one, apparently. But because this is a film, and a fairly small-budget one at that, it focuses primarily on the intimate, and that's what makes it such a consistent pleasure. The intimacy is quite startling; the first sex, for instance, with Beni's spit dangling from his lip to Fogi's skin, exploring Fogi's body with his lips and nose. It's incredibly erotic. But better than that, there's a rare tenderness that's very admirable. And I don't just mean their kisses (though that is part of it), I mean the generosity the filmmaker gives to the characters, the way he indulges in the druggy ecstasy of the first lust/love but also doesn't shy away from their tendency toward self-hatred.

Their relationship is very much a role-playing game: it's the rock star fantasy, and Beni, in his tight shirt, is a male groupie -- Fogi's special boy. His infatuation with Fogi makes sense if we get in his head, but the film doesn't make us feel it, especially; we don't feel the "rebellion" that Beni sees in Fogi (and Fogi's music isn't very memorable, or outrageously "rock"). As the relationship deepens, the role-playing becomes more sexual in nature, but the undercurrent of damaging emotions remain. Beni becomes a slave boy to his studly master, and the emotional degradation we begin to witness (Beni clinging, in his underwear, to Fogi's legs as he kicks him out) brought to mind Frank Norris' writing -- Beni barking like a puppy dog for sexual play, but also with a degree of self-loathing. (It recalls the rush of contradictory emotions in the scene in "Blue Velvet" where Isabella Rossellini begs Kyle MacLachlan to hit her.) It would seem that, when we see this formerly innocent fanboy now nuzzling his face in Fogi's crotch after having been humiliated by him (Fogi pours milk on him when he refuses to move), the Beni character has taken an unbelievable turn, but the transitions -- both of the film and of Beni's character -- feel smooth. (And the emotional specificity of the sexual games ring incredibly true.)

I think, by the time the end comes around, a certain sense of sadness permeates the film that is quite fine. The ending works according to the delusional aspect of the relationship -- at first Beni's recollections seem almost ridiculous, but it's very much in tune with what we've just seen. Heartbreaking, because kids do think like this. 9/10

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

a gem

9/10
Author: tnwestlake from France
23 January 2005

Outstanding acting, great casting, and really tight direction work together to make an unsparingly tragic plot both utterly believable and inexplicably hopeful.

Dark, sexy and very disturbing, the film's central theme is of love: though it is used, abused, warped and betrayed, it retains a strange and constant purity throughout, even up to the central character's almost shocking conclusion at the end. There is no question of bestowing any redemptive power on love, since this is a film of unflinching reality, but love's ability to provide sense to an existence otherwise bereft of meaning is shown to the full. There are few films that try to do this. Even fewer succeed, but this is one of them.

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

The Whirlpool

9/10
Author: Carlos Martinez Escalona from Mexico
11 August 2006

Mandragora meets Switzerland. Amazing detail. Beautifully shot. Extremely complex sequences. Beautiful dialogues. Mesemrising moments. Truthful, yet incredibly depressing. That's what I'd add in a nutshell if you want to dig into this film's nightmares.

Beni's nightmare, that's it. We, who have seen this film, agree that it's a difficult and painful way to go to the end.

Despite its very Swiss environment, it's a film that would fit any time slot since the sixties. Strong and bitter. Sweet and hopeless. Definitely not an American film. Good actors, good script and a good director... all these factors make of F... one of those rare modern films that have it all.

Clearly, French input is all over this movie, and that's always a plus.

The music is another point to look for. Original music not to be found anywhere; a couple of Lou Reed's good songs and a heartbreaking end with Patti Smith's "Wings". Forget about the gay themed thing, this is a film to make you think, seriously!

I doubt anyone would endure just walking out as the credits roll.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Great film about a dysfunctional gay affair.

10/10
Author: Ken Rudolph from Hollywood, CA
25 September 2001

From the other comments {as of 2001 when I first wrote about this film here} you might think "Fogi is a Bastard" is a total loser film; but I think those others missed the boat on this one. It remains the #1 film I'd like to own on video, one that actually breaks new ground in examining a hot, if dysfunctional, gay love affair. For me, it was the best film at OUTFEST 1999; and even though as a film it probably is not a masterpiece, as a gay film it is so amazing and mind blowing that it has replaced "Law of Desire" (by Almodòvar), as my all-time favorite gay film. Vincent Branchet plays Beni, a schoolboy in 1974 Switzerland, who develops a crush on Fogi the notoriously gay lead singer/guitarist of a local punk band, "The Minks". They form a relationship which starts out as innocent puppy dog attraction with wonderful sex, and which devolves to heavy sado-masochism as Fogi descends into heroin addiction and starts hiring out Beni as a call-boy and treating the willing and cooperative Beni as his dog (too bad the more apropos title, "My Life as a Dog" was already taken). It sounds unpromising, I know. Yet the film is such an unsparingly realistic portrayal; the actors so outstanding (Branchet is both the most attractive young actor and one of the best actors period that I've seen in several years; and Frederic Andrau, who plays Fogi is no slouch, himself) that it all works. The film is beautifully shot in a realistic, gritty style with a very mobile camera which defies description (a scene where the characters have dropped LSD and the whirling camera is used as a metaphor for their internal state is simply stunning.) It is exciting and innovative film making, and the director Marcel Gisler is one to watch for. This is a film I would go back to see over and over if it were ever to get a release here.

I finally got to see this film again on DVD in March, 2012; and the film has lost none of its power to shock and amaze. Twelve years have passed since I saw it, and still no other filmmaker has managed to make a gay themed dramatic film which so ardently and truthfully managed to capture the unvarnished essence of the sex, drugs and Gothic Rock gay culture of the '70s. This film might have been set in Switzerland; but it could have been set anywhere that gay people congregated in that pre-AIDS, post-Stones era. This film remains a milestone of the gay cinema and deserves its place in the canon.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Stunning, mesmerizing, yet disturbing.

Author: jimu63 from San Marcos, CA
30 May 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Be warned--I cannot discuss this film without SPOILERS--so, consider this your friendly:

****SPOILER ALERT****

I picked up the DVD of this film--translated "Fogi is a Bastard"--having never heard of it and knowing nothing about it short of the cover plot description. This is usually a recipe for disaster and confirms my late Grandmother's favorite saying--"A fool and his money soon parted." And after reading some of the previous user comments you would thing that would be the case. But I think some of these people are wrong, wrong, wrong about this one. "Fogi" is one of the most stunning, mesmerizing and sexy, yet profoundly disturbing films I have ever seen about all-encompassing, unrequited love. The fact its main character is a homosexual 16-year-old boy only adds to the power of the picture.

Played by the youthful and disarmingly attractive Vincent Branchet, Beni is a young schoolboy who falls under the spell of Fogi (Frederic Andrau), the lead singer of a local Swiss rock band. After he writes Fogi a love/fan letter, Fogi invites Beni to his apartment where they begin a puppy love affair with terrific, mutually satisfying sex. For Fogi, of course, it's just a casual, fun fling with a groupie he knows will do anything for him. For Beni, it's the real thing, a love so strong with sex so powerful you can literally feel the love and devotion for this guy taking over this young boy's soul to the point that nothing else in life matters beyond being with Fogi, whether it's in bed or tending to his every need. Fogi returns the favor by getting the poor kid hooked on drugs, leaving him alone for days on end and abusing him emotionally and mentally. Things begin to spiral out of control in this dangerous relationship when the band's gigs dry up and Fogi leaves town to make money by selling drugs, leaving Beni to mope around the apartment like an abandoned housepet. When Fogi finally returns, Beni is ecstatic--think of a military wife welcoming her husband home from war--but something is terribly wrong with Fogi, who has become hopelessly addicted to heroin and becomes increasingly abusive and cruel to his young lover in an attempt to get him to leave--which Beni refuses to do. Fogi then begins to literally treat Beni like a dog--having him crawl around the apartment naked, wear a dog collar, eat like a dog, sleep curled up on the floor like a dog, being washed like a dog. When this doesn't get rid of the kid, Fogi figures he might as well make money off of him and starts pimping him out to old gay men in the neighborhood, which Beni gladly does since, after all, he's in love.

All of this, of course, leads to an appropriately tragic ending for Fogi, but on a hopeful note for Beni. The real power of this film lies in the last bit of dialog, where Beni actually believes he didn't love this jerk enough to save him from the inevitable and literally apologizes for not doing enough to save him! "Fogi is a Bastard" is one of the most truthful and appropriate titles to a film I have ever seen. And I can't say enough about the actors, especially Vincent Branchet who is so brave an actor he puts his young American counterparts to shame. This is a role in which he could easily look foolish yet he pulls it off--you understand what he does because he shows the depth of his irrational love. And Frederic Andrau also shines as Fogi--who really is a bastard. Kudos to director Marcel Gisler, who films all this in an ultrarealistic manner and manages to make a nearly one-set film unclaustrophobic. Ironically, I watched this film the day after watching "Attack of the Clones," which was one of the most joyless and mindless mishmashes I have ever seen. There may not be much joy in "Fogi," but at least it will make you think, and may scare a few teens into thinking twice about getting involved in inappropriate relationships with adults. **** (out of *****)

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Down and Out in Zurich

7/10
Author: (benc7ca)
29 June 2004

The road to perdition is well-travelled and well-documented in movie history. This particular `Road Movie' is set mostly in Switzerland in the mid-1970's, a conceit I see as the one lie in a very truthful film. This could be set anywhere at anytime but if a director is going to film a period piece, then he'd better watch for the anachronisms; they can be his undoing! Watching one more character destroy himself on drugs and booze might have been cliche, however, the two young actors, Frédéric Andrau (Fögi) and Vincent Branchet (Beni), save us from this fate. Both are utterly convincing; I believed everything about them and I believed Beni's love for Fögi in all it's misguided, self-destructive force. The ending, inevitable and tragic, is saved from banality by Beni's `lesson learned', which is as original as it is poignant.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece

10/10
Author: jim_ds000
13 February 2002

Gay, straight--whatever, this is the film to see. The heaven and hell of love, and then an ending which stunningly melanges the two--Drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Heard that before? And Beni transcends all. A real stunner...

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, tender, brilliantly conceived and executed. Stunning performance by Vincent Branchet.

10/10
Author: jm10701 from United States
7 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a gem of a movie. It is very, very good in so many ways that I don't know where to start, so I'll start with the performances.

Oh my, what delights! Vincent Branchet as the teen Beni, who is in love with a minor local rock star named Fögi, is perfect in every moment in every scene in this movie. The balance of innocence, shyness, and determination in his very first encounters with Fögi is totally real and totally convincing. His devotion to Fögi through his steady decline is so touching and so true that you believe absolutely that he could not have done anything else. And unlike 99.9% of movie characters, Beni is not a caricature--he's a complex character, a living human being, who changes significantly in response to what happens to him in the course of the movie. Beni goes from wide-eyed, enthusiastic innocence through great joy, great humiliation, cynicism, toughness, maturity, despair, and ultimate survival--and Branchet hits every single note absolutely perfectly. He is never predictable, never artificial, never "acting," and never, ever wrong. I've never seen a better performance by any actor in any movie, ever.

Frédéric Andrau has a less complex role in Fögi, but he carries it off just as expertly. Fögi is somewhat like Lou Reed (one of his idols), but less talented, less pretentious, and much more attractive. Fögi has Reed's nihilism without his survival instincts, and Andrau plays him raw, without any veneer of civility. But, despite the movie's strange title, Fögi is not a bastard, he's not a monster. He's a pure hedonist, he lives for pleasure alone, but he shares his pleasure freely with those around him, especially with Beni. But pleasure alone is not enough to make a life, and so Fögi's life runs out early.

What's most remarkable in both lead actors is their ability to embody conflicting traits simultaneously. As Beni is both sweetly innocent and fiercely determined, Fögi is both destructive and heartbreakingly tender. Whatever cruelty he occasionally shows Beni is just a shadow of what he's doing to himself, and his genuine love for Beni never really falters.

All the supporting performers are good too, particularly Urs Peter Halter as Fögi's sweet, long-suffering bandmate Töbe, who may be in love with Fögi too although it's never said.

But as great as the two lead performances are, what shines most brightly in this movie is the relationship between the two men. It joins the two performances together into something even greater than either is on its own. I realized about halfway through that I was watching one of the greatest love stories ever filmed.

The relationships between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, and between Heathcliff and Cathy in Wuthering Heights, take place on a grander scale and over a longer period, but in emotional power they both pale next to this modest little story of Fögi and Beni. Where both those earlier stories are high melodrama, with grand passions on a grand scale, Fögi and Beni are little people living in a little world, a real world, a world that's right here with us right now.

They live in the same mostly dark, mostly petty, mostly messy, but sometimes glorious world all of us live in. We're not all failing rock stars or lovelorn teenagers, but most of us have loved somebody more than we "should" have, most of us have been deeply hurt and humiliated, most of us know what it feels like to hold onto somebody who is pushing us away, and most of us have known at least a few moments of passion so great and so transcendent that it swept us away and made everything worthwhile. That's what this movie is about.

Until today, I was grateful that gay romance in the movies even existed at all. The fact that those romances were mostly not quite believable--and never so powerful that they blew me away--was okay, because it was better than nothing. Just to see two men willing to kiss or touch each other in front of a camera was good enough. Now this movie comes along and blows the doors off that tired old barn.

There do not exist in any movie ever made love scenes like the ones in this movie, as touching, as powerful, as wildly, tenderly, profoundly erotic without ever being pornographic, as the love scenes between Fögi and Beni. No man and woman ever did on screen what these two men do, and I don't mean graphic sex acts. I mean touching each other like they're on fire, kissing like they want to swallow each other, holding each other like they've got hold of the greatest treasure in the universe, joy and pleasure dancing back and forth between them like lightning. It's electrifying, but it's also very tender, very gentle, and exquisitely beautiful.

There's a lot of nudity, a lot of bed sex, and every bit of it is absolutely essential. But the best scene in the movie isn't in bed, isn't even overtly sexual, and both men are fully clothed (the cover pic is from that scene). They're outside, walking together on a hill, enjoying a beautiful afternoon, just sharing their delight in being together. But their joy is drug-enhanced, and you know it can't last (Lou Reed's marvelous song "Heroin" is playing on the soundtrack), but it's lovely while it lasts.

I've never seen anything like this movie, and I never expect to again. I recommend it very, very enthusiastically.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very special and moving and sensible and one of the best I saw

10/10
Author: bertoele from Netherlands
26 September 2008

I was so surprised to see this movie. How is it possible that a film like this is so unknown! The story brought me back to the time when I was 15 years old. I recognized so many things, feelings. Feelings of loving someone I admired, feelings that were confusing, sometimes despair, sometimes top of happiness. This films brings a lot of feelings to the surface and I am so happy that a director is possible to do this. The story is not commend, has great surprising moments. And the actors are awesome good. You understand I do not agree at all with the first review on this movie. But maybe he didn't live in 1973. This movie gives a insight if that time. A time I was 14/15 and a time that it was not bad that I liked a guy ten years older then myself. SEE THIS MOVIE! Love to you all Bert

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Deserves a tiny but special spot in the roster of drug and music films

Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
21 July 2007

This gay-friendly Swiss French film about a drugged-out punk singer who has an obsessive, dysfunctional affair with a 15-year-old boy groupie pushes the edge of the permissible and the believable and does not go anywhere but downhill, though it isn't without a certain sweetness. Deserves a tiny but special spot in the roster of drug and music films somewhere is a remote branch off from Velvet Goldmine and Sid and Nancy. More than that, it is courageous and tasteful in its straightforward and sexy treatment of man-boy love, and one can well understand that some viewers find it very special. Both of the principals are attractive, and Fögi may be a bastard, but he has a lot of charm as well.

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