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Why You Should Watch Eastern Boys

Why You Should Watch Eastern Boys

After seeing Eastern Boys, I am fascinatingly conflicted.

From all over the Eastern Bloc, young men have arrived to Paris. The ones we’re introduced to here loiter around the Gare du Nord train station, forming a gang for support and protection. From the opening scene, it’s unclear what they are up to all day, we can just imagine. One day, middle-aged Daniel (Olivier Rabourdi) gets the courage and approaches a young-looking man called Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) who he learns is willing to do anything for cash.

 

 

Daniel intends to pay for sex and agrees to have the boy come to his lush apartment the next day. The next day arrives but when the doorbell rings, it’s not Marek, it’s a much younger associate of his, who Daniel mistakenly allows into his apartment. Shortly there are a dozen “Eastern Boys” in Daniel’s apartment immediately taking over. By day’s end they have cleared out of everything.

Some time after the home invasion, there is a ring at the apartment. Marek has come calling, this time to fulfill the sex-for-pay agreement. Over the next several weeks a deeper, more profound relationship develops between Daniel and Marek that is based on their brief anonymous liaisons.

As described by Writer-Director Robin Campillo, “Much like Daniel who, when faced with these young men from the East, oscillates between fear and desire, the film threads its way through ambiguous feelings, borderline, indeed marginal situations…” The entire movie moves along based on feelings of fear, risk, and desire. It is also filled with dark, strange situations that are truly suspenseful. I don’t find any fantasy in the relationship that develops. For me it all seems more reality-based.

Why am I conflicted? Well, some would argue that paying for sex is morally repugnant and reprehensible and Daniel deserves what he got. While I would not pay for sex, I don’t think it’s right that a dozen gang members essentially trap Daniel and rob him blind.

Campillo does not give us explanations of character behaviors. We’re left to infer what is going through each character’s mind as each situation unfolds. Why is Daniel even interested in this young man, Marek? Is his own life too mundane? Has he reached a certain age where he feels the need to care for someone else? Why does Marek keep coming back to Daniel? Is it all about the money? Can we trust him as they become closer?

I have one final thought for consideration. Some may find this movie to be morally twisted, but is there a social message to be found? At a certain point, Daniel is no longer interested in having sex with Marek. Why? I would say that after having your lust’s desire fulfilled, you’re left with reality. In reality each character has certain needs that were unfulfilled. For them, it may have taken some time and a round about way of getting there but in the end, it may just work out.


128 mins, French, Russian, Ukranian and English w/ English Subtitles, Digital Written, Directed, and Edited by Robin Campillo Producers: Hugues Charbonneau & Marie-Ange Luciani Cinematography: Jeanne Poirie Music by Arnaud Rebotini





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