Cinema Nova - Sunday 01 March 2015, 1:35pm
Running time: 128m
Classification: R16 (Offensive language, sex scenes, violence)
Release date: 26/02/15
Cost: $10 (Optus Rewards)
Rating: 5.5/10 (ME 2/5, DP 3.5/5)
Eastern Boys is a movie in four Acts, delivering for us the gripping and, at times, incredibly uncomfortable story of the strange and unexpected love story that develops between Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin), a seemingly successful French businessman and Marek/Rouslan (Kiril Emelyanov) a young Eastern European hustler in central Paris. This relationship develops despite, and perhaps in spite of, Marek's involvement with a group of illegal immigrants forced into a life of crime to ensure their survival in a country where they are not openly welcomed...and who change Daniel's life forever following his chance meeting and the arrangement of a paid assignation with Marek. It is a story of shifting power dynamics and the desires of men as Marek eventually seeks to pay his penance for the actions of his gang and Daniel seeks to reclaim the power that was temporarily stripped from him by the actions of the gang. A fascinating element of this film is the gradual shift of this unlikely relationship from carnal and transactional, to something significantly more fraternal, based on genuine feelings and emotion.
Olivier Rabourdin plays Daniel with a Gallic stoicism that does not waiver despite the unexpected, frightening and frustrating situations that he finds himself embroiled in following his initial encounter with Marek and the chain of events that lead to him encountering Marek's partners in crime. Kiril Emelyanov plays Marek/Rouslan with a certain fragility, tentativeness and an appropriate degree of awkwardness, as he negotiates his fast developing and unfamiliar relationship with Daniel. The malevolent leader of the street urchins and hustlers, simply known as 'Boss' (Daniil Vorobyov) consistently steals the scenes he appears in with his psychotic brilliance and an extreme level of magnetism. Other support cast members deliver creditable performances, with Edéa Darcque a particular standout as Chelsea, the manager of the Hotel Halt where the illegal immigrant gang have established their home.
The opening scenes of Eastern Boys successfully establish and cement the film's tense and suspenseful atmosphere. Long scenes assist with building this tension and often help to create a sense of foreboding and uncertainty. The development of the story and characters relies very much on visual techniques. You watch changes and developments, rather than relying on an extended use of complex or superfluous dialogue to explain what is happening. Despite the strengths in these areas, this movie is let down by some unexplained gaps in the scripting and editing. Often actions are taken for no apparent reason and many of the characters' motivations are unexplained and they exhibit seemingly unusual responses in many circumstances. Eastern Boys explores some rather complex concepts and succeeds at times with giving the audience an insight into some of the common problems being experienced in current day Paris, however it is ultimately not completely satisfying. This was a good movie, however it would not be recommended for most viewers. (DP)