Capsule review: Wild Boys (2018)

After a number of shorts, the French director Bertrand Mandico triumphantly saves European avant-garde with his first feature film, not less experimental than everything else he did so far. Wild Boys is a savage masterpiece, a hallucinatory erotic id of colours, shadows and music, transposing a sort of a wild femininity on a story of a group of wild teenage boy delinquents, whose punishment involves time spent on a ship of a mysterious captain. For the crux of the story is that they end up on an island which gradually starts transforming all the boys into women.

The Freudian surrealism evokes 1980s French films by Raul Ruiz, especially The Territory, The Treasure Island and City of Pirates. Other influences spring to mind as well, such as the work of Kenneth Anger, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and arguably James Bidgood. The most intriguing aspect of the film, completely in the tone of its gender-bending postulations, is the fact that all the boys in the film are played by women. The energy of the ensemble cast elevates this a few more notches.

In French, 110 min.