Nothing grabs initial attention like a film about promiscuous young love, especially one set in ‘sexually uninhibited’ France – sunny Biarritz in the South West here. Even more so, one that toys with the term ‘gang bang’ in its full title.
Undeniably a confident debut from writer-director Eva Husson, who comes from a music video background, Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) is not short on cinematic style. It also confidently explores modern aspects that affect sexual development too. It just does little else unique that French filmmakers haven’t already done with sexual exploration and coming-of-age themes in the past.
We are party to the downtime of several ‘bored’ suburban high-school teens who decide to create a private orgy club at one boy’s house while his mother is away on business. However, far from liberating them, youthful emotions get in the way, all publicised on social media, causing problems for some and divisions on a whole.
Husson favours the ‘voyeur’ camera style in much of her work, the setting for which is in the opening scene, seen through the eyes of one of the party – we find out whom later on. There is a softly lit, subdued tone to her cinematography, almost dreamlike, as well as an equally chilled pace that sets the scene for the players to relax and explore. Interestingly though, as reality sets in for the characters, this cinematic style becomes more ‘exposing’ and sharper focused. It’s this style verses the ‘ferocious’ pace of social media and pockets of tension that nicely play at odds but also compliment and move the plot forward.
In fact, the film’s threat is the invasion of modern-day communication methods in an otherwise idyllic innocence that the viewer is made to watch being unleashed. One such character stands as the moral compass, albeit on the sidelines to start with, until he too, through desire and opportunity, slips up – but does get to redeem himself. What is intriguing is watching the fallout and guessing the casualties from this social experiment.
The acting from a mainly debut cast is quite admirable, showing Husson’s skill at putting her ensemble at ease. There is even one to watch, Marilyn Lima, who looks like a modern-day Brigitte Bardot or Emmanuelle
As is the case with a lot of newcomer talent, the film only stretches the imagination so far before lack of writing experience shows through – and once you have seen some teen experimentation, it does become tedious. Husson must see the action-reaction of her promiscuous teens through to the end, but Bang Gang does flag even with its controversial subject. Still, Husson has a powerful first vehicle to drive home with, if not as a critique of modern-day pressures on youth.