The Wild Boys (Sydney Underground Film Festival)
Pauline Lorillard, Diane Rouxel, Sam Louwyck, Vimala Pons, Anael Snoek
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…nothing if not bizarre and polymorphously perverse.
There are strong echoes here of numerous cultural forebears, many of them literary: William Golding, Jules Verne and William Burroughs for example. Then there are the cinematic predecessors, like Jean Cocteau and (relatively recently) Todd Haynes. And yet, for all that, The Wild Boys is sometimes striking in ways of its own – especially visually. The gorgeous cinematography – mostly black and white – and the beautiful lighting give the film a surreal quality over and above its strange content, and somehow render its nastier elements all the more disturbing.
The premise here is that five boys (all actually played by women) commit the pack rape of their literature teacher. In an ostensible attempt to reform them, they are taken on a long sea voyage by a mysterious man known as The Captain (Sam Louwyck) – who soon proves to be at least as brutal and savage as the boys themselves. What follows is nothing if not bizarre and polymorphously perverse. The ship’s sails are covered in hair. They end up on an island in which the grass ‘gropes’ them, much of the vegetation is phallic in shape, and they begin to find themselves turning into girls. All of which occurs to the accompaniment of effective music, some of it ironically sentimental or mock-heroic.
A lot of what unfolds is difficult to describe – but then, as with an unsettling dream, you wouldn’t necessarily want to describe it. What’s more regrettable is that the story drags on a bit, so that the most benign choreographed sensuality eventually starts to look and feel like a video clip – while the more unsavoury stuff becomes too cumulatively irksome.
The Wild Boys doesn’t go anywhere interesting, or build sufficiently on its surreality, but there are enough imaginative elements in it to pass muster.