French teens make Larry Clark’s kids look cautious and prudish. They start with
a game of Truth or Dare that is only dares, but they quickly dispense with the
bottle. Pretty soon, it is all orgies, all the time for this group of largely
unsupervised upper middle class high school students. However, there will
eventually be a price to pay in Eva Husson’s unsubtly titled Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is the school’s sexually confident queen bee, who takes the more reserved
Laetitia under her wing. They become fast friends and just as fast frienemies
when the well-heeled Alex spurns George in favor of Laetitia. Not used to be on
the outs, George responds by going nuclear, inspiring the first drunken
happening she vernacularly dubs a “Bang Gang.” Yet to her surprise, Laetitia,
Alex, and the rest of his vapid circle acclimate themselves much more readily
to the Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice lifestyle than she does.
a nearly complete role reversal, Alex is soon throwing Bang Gangs nearly every day,
while George commences a cautious courtship with Gabriel, the rumpled aspiring electronica
composer Laetitia has been carrying a torch for. Things will be further
complicated when George is publically shamed by an online video-posting outside
the group’s admittedly loose guidelines.
film like BG needs to be
excruciatingly honest about its emotional consequences or just say the Hell
with it and double down on titillation. Rather awkwardly, Husson spends most of
the film trying to be half-pregnant, which guarantees it will fail on both
scores. True to form, the resulting film manages to be simultaneously boring
is in fact a talented filmmaker. Her short film Promises, essentially an alternate music video for The Presets’
tune of same name, featuring sexy bloody vampires, is entertaining, in a
shamelessly slick way. When considered alongside BG, it rather suggests Husson is recovering from a Bret Easton
Ellis influence, which is always dangerous. Regardless, she way over-indulges
in the pseudo-apocalyptic portents of a rash of commuter train derailments and
the scorching hot summer’s mounting death toll from heatstroke. That would probably
be a Lars von Trier influence, which is also a tricky business.
she coaches her young, mostly unprofessional cast into some very good,
depressingly believable performances. Marilyn Lima and Daisy Broom, who swapped
their natural blonde and brunette hair colors, are especially engaging as
George and Laetitia, respectively. They actually get at some truths regarding
high school social dynamics, but it all just gets buried under the film’s
excesses and languid pace.
Let’s be honest, we have been here before and
seen plenty of similar porn-obsessed borderline sociopathic teenagers
frittering away their advantages. This time they happen to be French, but there
is nothing intrinsically special about them. Furthermore, when the promised
consequences finally crash the party, they are so ambiguous, it leaves viewers
baffled regarding Husson’s intentions. A pretentious mess from any perspective,
Bang Gang is not recommended when it
opens this Friday (6/17) in New York, at the Village East.
Labels: Eva Husson, French Cinema, Naughty films