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|Index||15 reviews in total|
Stéphanie is a transsexual prostitute who lives in Paris but she
returns home to nurse her dying mother. Although her mother tries to
understand, Stéphanie's situation is a lot to take in. Stéphanie has
been living for some time now with two men and the three of them share
a common bed and at times a common profession.
Jamel, is a young North African who has come to Paris and makes his living turning tricks in and around the train station. Stéphanie normally works the streets alone but one night her john wanted to watch her with another man. They spotted Mikhail on the street and took him back to Stéphanie's place for the show. He stayed after the trick left. Now he's part of Stéphanie's assembled family.
The film is much about the feelings of the characters and how they got to where they are and only little to do with the events happening in the present. If you are in the mood for likable characters in an interesting situation to be revealed to you with the speed of a flower unfolding then this may be the perfect movie for you. If however you are looking for a strong narrative story told in the conventional way then you should probably give this one a miss.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wild Side can be interpreted in different ways, so I guess it qualifies
as artistic. To wit: the meaning is not obvious, like so many Hollywood
movies that pretend they're artistic.
Surprising then that in in the 'extras' interview, director Sabastien Lifshitz cites a Hollywood director (David Lynch) as a comparison to his work; he also mentions being offended by the 'sameness' of French cinema (almost identical objections that many of us have about Hollywood crap). This is interesting considering the film he made. Outside of a few indie houses in the U.S., I can't imagine Wild Side ever, EVER seeing the light of day in Hollywood.
Lifshitz also mentions being impressed by the series 'Six Feet Under,' perhaps without realizing that it would be difficult to find a more atypical Hollywood 'dramedy' -- so atypical that only HBO would pick it up. Perspective is everything I guess. It's always greener and all that stuff.
Wild Side is a disturbing film, but, given the nature of the material, I assume it was meant to be. It's about as explicitly sexual as you can get without actually seeing anal penetration or fellatio, although there's plenty of visual suggestion to make us believe both of each.
Stephanie Michelini (as Stephanie, the real-life pre-op transsexual) has apparently never acted before. She is stone-faced throughout the film, although she emerges as a sympathetic figure in scenes with her mother and boyfriends (Yasmine Belmadi and Edouard Nikitine). But facially that sympathy does not come through on the screen. She displays emotion only at the end at the film. Perhaps that's the way we're supposed to accept her.
The three main characters in the film are broken, dispirited, marginalized people, and Lifshitz shows their world very well indeed.
I have quarrels with this film that are perhaps minor, depending on your point of view. Lifshitz shows us -- not once, but at least twice -- the blatant hypocrisy of heterosexuals who are both 'pleasured' and repulsed by homosexual acts. Why did Lifshitz add the second scene -- a brutal dehumanization of gay men and transsexuals by a straight man who pays for the privilege of seeing it? I found this quizzical. We know such hypocrisy exists everywhere, but the one scene, where a sated married man, now angry at himself, turns his back on Djamel (Belmadi) and tells him he doesn't want to 'make a habit' of having homosexual sex. That was an effective, powerful and subtle scene that fully engaged the viewer in heterosexual hypocrisy. So why add yet another that was the opposite of effective, powerful and subtle? It leaves me wondering if the director didn't have an personal axe in the fire, to mix a metaphor.
At the end, we see the three huddled in solidarity on a moving train. It's a brilliant and moving scene -- in the hostile world they face they have each other. But Lifshitz won't let it go. In the last seconds of the film, he has to show us sunlight pouring on the trio through the window of the train. The symbolism is not only hokey, it's too obvious by half. It's the kind of thing you see, well, in a Hollywood film.
The photography in this film is splendid.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILER* *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
This one has been filmed too early. The script is still in early stages and as a result, the characters are not fully developed. It's a shame because the potential is there. The characters could have been much more explained and developed if someone would have taken the time to work on the script. At this stage we, the audience, are left with questions that will never be answered. Why has Stéphanie became a transsexual? There is nothing in her past to suggest that it should gone this way(although I think the young Stéphanie is actually played by a girl and not by a boy)Why does Djamel do not speak with his mother ? and why has Mikhail ran away from home?
The whole film looks like an half baked cake . Someone mixed the right ingredients but has forgotten to add the extra that will make it tasty.
If you like films that ramble with little plot exposition spiced with kinky sex, this film is for you. On the plus side the lead actor/actress (newcomer transsexual) does have an interesting screen presence, but not enough to add up to much more than a mildly interesting movie - if that. Essentially this film is about 3 social outcasts (transexual prostitute, male hustler, and Russian,gay immigrant) who somehow have developed a bond. Why is not clear. We are expected to accept these misfits are at the core basic honest people who have the ability to love while they hustle their bodies on the street. Right!! And Anna Nicole Smith was truly in love with her ninety something sugar daddy! The filmmaker shows a gritty, unpleasant side of life while wanting us to believe underneath it all these seriously damaged people are really quite normal to the extent they have a menage a trois which helps them through life. Quite a fantasy, but unfortunately portrayed here as real look of life on the wild side. In sum, no plot, no truth and no real reason to spend much time here. Unless of course you just like to revel in the kink!!!
This story is about the romantic triangle between a nth. African male
prostitute, a French transsexual prostitute (Stephanie) and a Russian
waiter who speaks no French and never seems to shave.
As a film it is dull, dreary and depressing, shot either on foggy, overcast winter days or in badly lit interiors, where everyone is bathed in a weird blue luminescence. And yes, I know, it's because the white balance was out. Everyone is pale and downcast and looks haggard, shabby and dirty. Bodies are bony and shot in such closeup that they look quite ugly and unappealing. Moles, greasy hair. Yuk. Bad news in a film where people spend a lot of time either naked or having sex.
And the story? Well, Stephanie's mother is dying. All three characters go back to Stephanie's home village where, through a bunch of flashbacks to desolate countryside and predictably dingy interiors, we see a bit of Stephanie's childhood as a boy called Pierre. The mother dies. Well... and that's about it, really. Character development is kept to a minimum, as is the denouement of the story.
I suppose the storyline is not linear (it would explain a lot of non sequiteurs) but really, after paying my seven euros I don't feel like having to construct the film myself: that's what the director takes my money for. To expect me to join the story telling process and get my hands dirty, so to speak, is asking way too much.
This film is a heap of pretentious rubbish made, above all, from a desire to epater les bourgeois (ie shock the straights). I can see how it was a shoo-in for the Berlin Film Festival, and I can see why it got nowhere.
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