Lionel Baier’s GARÇON STUPIDE had its New York City
premiere at NewFest. It’s a fascinating, if not wholly successful
character study of a twenty year old who must eventually grow up
and accept adulthood. Loic (Pierre Chatagny) divides his time
between working at a Swiss chocolate factory, taking photographs
of whatever interests him with his camera-phone, hooking up with
male strangers he contacts in Internet chat rooms, and trying
to shock his friend Marie (the terrific Natacha Katcherovna). Marie
is equal parts big sister and mother, offering Loic a place to crash
between his assignations and his work. She’s a student and only
mildly exasperated by how little her friend knows. When she mentions
that she’s working on a paper on Hitlerian philosophy, Loic stares at
her blank, with no clue as to who Hitler was.
Loic finds his world view changing when he meets the unseen
Lionel (played by the director), an older man with whom he met in a
chat room. Lionel shocks the younger man when he eschews sex in
favor of just talking. The older man explains that sometimes sex
can be more pleasurable if you get to know the person first, a
completely foreign concept to Loic.
Up to the first half or so, GARÇON STUPIDE is a captivating
look at a wayward youth, before it devolves into something less
interesting. While some may feel that Baier’s portrait of a young
man is far fetched, I can attest to the fact that there are kids like
Loic out there. They’ve gone through the motions of getting an
education (and come out knowing very little). They have limited
curiosity about the world and events unfolding around them.
Many are just interested in enjoying themselves, whether through
sports, drugs, alcohol or sex. They are floating through life without
direction and a vague idea of what they want. At one point, Loic
becomes fixated on a handsome local soccer player (Rui Pedro
Alves) who gets written up in the papers. The youth expresses his
desire to be famous as well. He hold vague aspirations to become
a photographer, and seems to think he can will himself to achieve
his desired goal.
Fate, though, has other things in mind. There is a tragedy that
is partly of his own doing, he gets to spend time with his idol only
to have some of his dreams shattered, and he experiences a life
changing event. By the time the film peters out, Loic is on his way
to somewhere: his determination is not to be the stupid boy of the
title. By this point, though, the audience may have lost some interest
as events begin to escalate and the filmmaker appears to lose
is focus. What started off strongly, ends on a rather dull note.
Viewed at NewFest 2005 at Loews State Theater
|Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.