Sébastien Lifshitz’s Wild Side summons a tightly-wound ménage à trios both in front and behind the camera. If it’s impossible to imagine a world without the unusual but loving relationship of its three leads, it’s difficult to fathom the beauty of the film’s elliptical passages without the hands of Lifshitz, composer Jocelyn Pook, and cinematographer Agnès Godard. Stéphanie (Stéphanie Michelini) is a transsexual prostitute who returns to her childhood home to care for her dying mother. It’s there that she visits an old flame and tends to her relationship with two men: Mikhail (Edouard Nikitine), a Russian immigrant living illegally in France, and Jamal (Yasmine Belmadi), a 30-year-old hustler who turns tricks in train stations. Perhaps appropriate for a film about unconventional people and their unconventional lives, place and chronology is out of whack. From the dreary, people-less alleyways to the skies above his character’s heads, Lifshitz displaces emotion into the film’s environment, and while his collage of poetic visual asides and emotional exchanges courts effusiveness, the assemblage remains earnest and hauntingly expressive of a uniquely internal and expressive human turmoil. The playtime of two androgynous children seems to position itself as the paradise to the hell of Liliane’s looming death, with Stéphanie, Mikhail, and Jamal trapped somewhere in the purgatory in between. Naturally, maybe even cosmically, the film begins with Antony, the post-Warholian changeling who sings on I Am a Bird Now with his band the Johnsons, warbling “Fell In Love With A Dead Boy.” He sings and everyone around him responds with tears—and so does the physical world.
- 93 min
- Sébastien Lifshitz
- Stephane Bouquet
- Stéphanie Michelini, Edouard Nikitine, Yasmine Belmadi, Josiane Storelu
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