|Index||8 reviews in total|
First off, let me point out that this movie is by no means a french halfassed version of "super bad" (which I do love)or "American Pie", not that this movie is better (well actually it is way better than "American pie"!), it's just different, it's almost documentary style, but not as much as "The class", by the end of the movie, which is quite wonderful, because it miraculously mixes the bleakness of men's condition and the natural optimism and resilience of a young man who knows he has his life in front of him, you care for the characters, you hurt with them, way more than in American movie I've seen recently about similar subjects. I think the reason why is the sincerity of the director, who tackles every subjects, such as every day racism, misogyny, masturbation, the relationship between a adolescent and their parents, with a candour that would be deemed unacceptable by American audiences, anyway I guess. So this movie is extremely funny, the hero even has a Micheal Cera quality to him, but with less mannerisms, and it's impossible not to identify with the two main characters. So in conclusion,it is both a funny, beautiful and deeply nostalgic film about the transformation of a child into a man, if you will. Try not to miss it, but unless you live in France...well, wait for the DVD then !
This comedy is easily comparable to the recent American teenage
sex-romps, especially the American Pie series, however, at the same
time it is a totally different movie. American Pie, as funny as it was,
was not witty or intelligent. The French Kissers, directed by
first-timer Riad Sattouf, is very funny, but also an accurate
representation of what teenage boys experience in high school. Although
not all just think of sex, all are curious. This movie follows Herve
(Vincent Lacoste) and his best mate Camel (Anthony Sonigo) as they deal
with bullies, homework, family, hormones and the girls they so long
desire. There is no solid plot, rather, it is a disjointed series of
events that happen during a year that summarise a hectic time for
teenagers. Relationships are lost and started, tests and asssignments
are forgotten about till the last minute, parents pry into their
child's sex life, and friends hang out and talk about their latest
fling or sexcapades.
What I find makes this movie so good is the performances of the actors, who instill such life into their characters. Lacoste is incredibly funny as the nerdy guy with low self-esteem, but whose hormones are constantly raging. Sonigo is just as funny as the heavy metal loving, mullet wearing best friend who longs for the most beautiful girl in the school. Alice Trémolière and Julie Scheibling are fantastic as Aurore and Laura, the two girls who Herve and Camel lust after with varying degrees of luck. One last mention should go to Noémie Lvovsky as Herve's mother, who never stops prying and loving her son. Honestly, her character was so believable not just because Lvovsky was so good, but I can relate as my mother was a lot like her. Which brings me the screenplay, which is great as it brings a sense of realism to all the proceedings. Nothing is too far-fetched in this movie, which brings it above most American comedies of this nature.
The soundtrack is excellent, and of course, Sattouf's direction is excellent. Yes, this is a very crude movie, with the majority of it being about sex and the various other activities a couple may get up to. Not everyone will enjoy it, the constant talk of masturbation, sex, french kissing (hence the title), and porn will put off people who do not feel comfortable with those subjects. But at the film's heart is a touching story of slowly discovering one's self, and thankfully Sattouf does not resort to sappiness and sentimentality with this theme. Unlike the many American comedies which end neatly with everything returning to normal, this ends in a way which mirrors how high school can really be (but I'm not going to spoil that here).
The French title of this coming-of-age comedy is Les beaux gosses, "The
Good-Looking Boys," and that's the first joke: these boys aren't all
that good-looking. But first-time director (and comic book artist)
Sattouf and his co-writer Marc Syrigas take the warm-hearted stand that
adolescence is a goofy time for pretty much everybody. Hervé (Vincent
Lacoste) is tall and scrawny and his Arab sidekick Camel (Anthony
Sonigo) is short and has ridiculous long-in-back Seventies hair that
signals his rock-star aspirations. The hair styles are iffy, the
physiques are far from ideal, the clothes are mismatched, and they have
acne. And the pimples aren't just painted on. But it doesn't matter.
Hervé and Camel do okay, and the actors who play them are quite
Hervé goes up to Aurore (Alice Trémolière), one of the prettiest girls in his school, and asks her for a date, and she laughs. Aurore usually has a little entourage of blond, well-groomed boys around her. Before long however she sneaks off with Hervé and they kiss. Hervé may not be a relationship Aurore wants to acknowledge, but he's fine to practice on. And they go further.
American viewers may take Les beaux gosses for a knock-off of a Hollywood youth pic, and it has nothing radically new to offer in its plot line of a kid who scores and then gets his heart broken. The American market is saturated with this kind of stuff. But for francophone viewers, there are nuances in the story-line and the dialogue that get lost in translation. Imagine Heathers done into French. Like Heathers, French Kissers adopts and teases teenage slang. Hervé absorbs French rap lingo, which pops out with hilarious inappropriateness. He thinks rap is good seduction music, and at one point, trying to be casual, he addresses his school's black program supervisor as "nigga." In fact the humor is not so much in what the boys are doing as in the way they talk about it.
Overall Les beaux gosses is more a mockery than a knockoff of Hollywood testosterone, and feels somewhat remote from the excesses of Judd Apatow-sponsored features, though it has something in common with "Freaks and Geeks" -- but with more, much more x-rated stuff. The antics of Hervé, Camel, and their pals are blithely vulgar. There is so much gross-out and crude stuff here it ceases to gross out or seem crude. The specifics of masturbation (and the overuse of socks) and other aspects of teeanage sex are never avoided, and the American Pie/Superbad-style dirty talking and acting is as vivid as it is fresh.
Les beaux gosses also goes into lots of detail about who people are and what they do; the movie's great virtue is its specificity, despite its focus on generic (and amorphous) "ado" problems. A gay lit teacher isn't just suspected of being gay; he's in a magazine as a gay role model and a student asks him to autograph a copy. Emmanuelle Devos has an unusual turn as a haughty school administrator. Hervé's very French single mom (played by director Noemie Lvovsky) takes a humorous interest in his jack-off activities, and also follows him to his girlfriend's party. She's a millstone, but always a benign one.
There is, of course, at least one threateningly perfect boy, Loïc (Baptiste Huet), but he turns out to be far from perfect when a weird accident happens at a gym class whose tumbling sessions also give Hervé a bloody nose. Hervé, Aurore, Camel, and friends Benjamin (Robin Nizan-Duverger) and various others are messy, confused, hormone-crazed, and even sexually vague. Hervé's relationship with his mother is borderline incestuous and with Camel, as they act out and try out, has its homoerotic phases.
It's this cornucopia of absurd over-the-top-ness and richness of detail that explains Les beaux gosses' successful inclusion in Director's Fortnight at Cannes and its rave views after its summer 2009 French release. It was shown as part of the FSLC/uniFrance-sponsored Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at the Walter Reade Theater and the IFC Center in New York in March 2010.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was, initially, unsure of just what to say about this delightful French film but after reading the viewer comments I decided that my opinions are as valuable as some of the film cognoscenti who have offered less than enlightening thoughts about The French Kissers. No, I do not believe the film is trite; I do not believe the film has covered ground visited more thoughtfully by other films and I do not believe that it is over stated. Of course coming of age films must, of necessity, deal with similar topics as do other films in this same genre but I do not believe that this film can be disparaged for doing so. The elements of the film are recognizable by any person old enough to have already passed through this awkward adolescent period in our personal history, degree obviously will vary and to see a French take on this passage is hugely interesting. The situations exposed throughout this not so gentle film are familiar to all of us and therefore open to our individual memories of our own passage and this is the beauty of The French Kissers, it allows the viewer to look inside lives of people going through the same adolescent trauma but seeing it in a very, at least for me, different society. As rough as this film was, it still presented situations for which we all could relate. I found it a wonderful knowing film that should be seen.
Teenagers saga, topic visited many time by film makers, for me this one is fresh funny and sincere. I won't draw comparison with others as I feel it stands OK on its own. I left France 40 years ago and my teenage day was quite different on the ethnicity mix and the freedom of sexual expression that exists today. Yet I could associate so well with my own teenagers' experiences. Although the movie does deal a lot with sexual issues; and why not if it's about teenagers growing up. The film also deals with other relevant issues. I'm a little taking aback by the tittle chosen for English language "French Kissers". In my view it reduces the expectation of the potential viewer to something a little more trivial than what this movie is about. I even read a comment that explained why it was so named! My learning and understanding of the expression "french kiss" is somehow fairly specific and I could not relate to it appropriately further than a play on word. I wish I had the skill to translate meaningfully what "Les Beaux Gosses" conveys. I'm not happy with "the beaut kids" or " the great kids" but it's around this idea. And the idea in "beau gosse" is someone who think he or she's ready to put one over you but smoothly with a smile, weather or not it will happen. If I had to put a title in English for it I probably would have called it LOL, yes because this film is not threatening anyone and does touch people in a way they most likely will relate with it on way or the other, but whatever you will laugh out loudly. If you don't I don't envy you!
This destined for cult status flick is essentially a French American
Pie or Superbad. It has pubescent boys obsessed with sex, local girls
who said lads have no chance with (or do they?) and uncomfortable
situations aplenty. It doesn't do anything overly original, and the
story arc is predictable, but that doesn't matter. It is bloody
hilarious. Sure, it has patches of unfunny areas, but when it hits the
mark you'll be cackling until tears roll down your cheeks.
The awkward moments like the boys getting caught perving on a neighbour - draw out a chuckle here and there, though the real hearty laughs are primarily induced from the smaller, subtler parts of the film benefitting from the nuanced comic performances delivered by its young, pimply cast. Vincent Lacoste makes Herve a naturalistic and relatable adolescent whilst Anthony Sonigo is more over-the-top as his ultra-libidinous mate Camel. There is also a side-splitting turn from Noemie Lvovsky as Herve's unabashed mother who has an unseemly, yet surprisingly never disturbing, interest in her son's sex life. The bit where she witnesses Herve snogging for the first time is one of many highlights her reaction is completely and utterly priceless.
Writers Riad Sattouf (who also directed) and Marc Syrigas deserve plenty of credit too; their script has some undoubtedly memorable dialogue and interactions. A canteen scene where an inexplicably-cool blind boy chats up a naive girl offers one of the finest pick-up lines put to celluloid. Not to mention the deadpan reactions from Herve's group when they hear the school bully has died. It are these moments where the film shines and makes you forget about its numerous faults - the cultural differences to Australia make for some oddities elsewhere in the movie.
A guilty 90 minutes indeed.
3.5 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Brittany, France, Herve (Vincent Lacoste) and his best friend Camel
(Anthony Sonigo) are two horny adolescent teens who are flunking their
high school classes. Rather than studying they are too busy thinking
about women and wanting to get laid. Yet they are both so inept and
socially awkward that they have little luck with any of the girls they
pursue. They are also picked on regularly by the more popular bullies.
Herve, whose father is away supposedly in the army, struggles with his
meddling mother, who is not shy to ask him personal questions. Despite
his poor social skills, Herve is eventually greeted by a girl named
Aurore (Alice Trémolière), who sees something in him and they start a
Riad Sattouf's first film as a writer and director is like the French version of American Pie. As with that movie, this is yet another comedy and coming of age film that explores an adolescent's fixation with sex. Herve and Camel regularly spy on their neighbours having sex, imagine themselves with the most beautiful girls in their classes and pleasure themselves with magazines. Some will suggest that this film is truthful to the years of an adolescent. To an extent it might be, but this is a film that begs the question as to when truth becomes a cliché, as countless other films have explored the same behaviour in more subtle, meaningful and original ways. This is a crude and juvenile film that takes these issues for laughs and only in the most superficial manner. Seeing The French Kissers recalls the indie comedy-drama Thumbsucker (2005), a superior film that also focused on adolescent behaviour. It rarely overstated the teenage interest in sex and its dopey adolescent protagonist was characterised with moments of frustration, highs and low, strengths and weaknesses. It felt like a finely realised visualisation of some of the most difficult times in growing up.
The two characters in this film though are so devoid of any redeeming qualities and substantial development that by the end some will be begging Sattouf to give them some dignity. They are hopeless in every aspect of their lives. They are idiotic, lazy, selfish, socially awkward and interested in little beyond sex and music. Both of the boys, though through no fault of their performances, are less credible than they should be because their roles have been written more like caricatures, coming straight from the handbook of bad adolescent behaviour. They channel every cliché imaginable for the nerdy teens, right down to playing games of Dungeons and Dragons. The credibility of the main relationship between Herve and Aurore is also strained because one has to question what exactly she sees in him. For his apparent obsession with sex, he initially does not seem the least bit interested in talking to her. Most disappointingly, the repetition of masturbation jokes grows very tiresome after a while and minimizes the number of laughs in the film. Some might enjoy this brand of gross out humour but others will surely find it particularly unfunny and unintelligent.
Domestically, The French Kissers has been a huge hit. Yet for Western audiences the issues explored in this film are likely to be overly familiar given that so many funnier and more intelligent films have dealt with the same concepts. If the characters had more qualities to evoke our sympathy for them, this could have been a more engaging and personal story, but at best it's rather hollow and two dimensional. For the debut of Sattouf it is not a terrible film, just one that shows his immaturity, most specifically, as a screenwriter.
I just saw this at the Traverse City Film Festival. If your idea of
"funny" is watching adolescent, pimply French boys jerking off into
their socks, please feel free to attend.
The protagonist is immature, unlikable, and just plain MEAN. He dismisses a girl who has the temerity to ask him if he wants to go out by calling her a "cow" and walking away laughing at her, leaving her in tears. The callousness of that scene is never redeemed. That is just an example of the loutishness in this film that passes for humor.
I gave it a 4 only because of the impressiveness of the female lead. Other than her screen time, don't waste your time.
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