Review: Eastern Boys


Delicately crafted.

Written and directed by Robin Campillo, the French cinéaste who co-wrote the widely acclaimed The Class (2008), Eastern Boys is a striking piece of cinema, offering a strong and sometimes challenging first hour and a half, which is, unfortunately, brought on clumsy cliché narration grounds for the last 40 min.

The film opens on Daniel as he wanders around the Gare du Nord in Paris. Between travelers, policemen and workers, are Eastern Boys hanging around the station. They come from Russia, Romania, Ukraine, the oldest must be about 25 years old, whilst the youngest can’t be aged. Among the gang is Marek  – is he a prostitute? No one really knows. Daniel invites him around the next day in his apartment in the Parisian suburbs, but Marek doesn’t come alone.

The scene that follows is cinematographically mesmerizing. Opening the door to who Daniel think is Marek, it is in fact the whole gang that enters his apartment, drinking his alcohol, establishing the place as their own. Slowly, the party kicks, and the music soon takes on the whole  soundtrack whilst the camera alternates between dancing sequence capturing the relationship that develops between Daniel and Marek and shots of Daniel’s place being emptied by the Eastern Boys.

From that point on, the film focuses on Daniel’s relationship with both Marek and the gang. The two men learn how to know each others, living a complex relation where feelings are never mentioned but truly felt, where sexual encounters are paid before evolving into something different. They try to hide their relationship away from the gang, but the Boss is tracking Marek and Daniel down, challenging the men’s affair.

As the film goes on, it manages to tackle the challenging issue of immigration and the current French political situation towards Eastern European migrants. Whilst the relationship between the men of the gang and Daniel is delicately crafted and explained, it is just a shame the ending of the film didn’t follow the same trance and instead brought the whole narration a step down.

Eastern Boys (2013), directed by Robin Campillo, is released in UK cinemas by Peccadillo Pictures, Certificate 15. 


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Ex-Film Editor and future ex-MA student, dissecting films since 2006.

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