In Camille Vidal-Naquet electrifying directorial debut Sauvage, the opening scene begins in a doctor’s office, as our main character Leo, is being carefully examined. Little does the audience know, that the events which proceed, is something so shocking, which none of the audience members could ever imagine/anticipate. Within the first five minutes, the sold out crowd, viewing the film, screamed with erotic delight, as the doctor pulls down Leo’s pants and gently strokes and sucks his cock on screen. The scene progresses, and the nervous laughter amplifies throughout the auditorium. The brief warning the audience received at the beginning about “graphic sex” was nowhere near what any of the audiences could imagine. In fact, all of the sex scenes in the film, which mind you does happen around every 5-10 minutes in the film, is downright pornographic and emotionally depraved. So, what’s the difference between this and some lousy emotionally void porno tape? Well, to simply put it, Sauvage is one hell of a character study.
Delving into the prostitution underground of a closeted village in France, we are introduced to Leo, a shy prostitute who aimlessly fucks any person who desires his body. The concept is as disturbing and scandalous as one would expect. Unlike several sex-worker themed erotic features which have been made in the past, Sauvage deals with the gritty and the dirty of this characters life, demonstrating plenty of graphic nudity and sex on screen for the audience to observe. as if we were Leo himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if this received the NC-17 rating in the states. However, all of these depraved acts lead up to a pitch perfect performance from Félix Maritaud, where he drives the film’s thematic complexities into overdrive with every little physical detail his body shows. His emotion-driven performance is stark, yet at the same time, speaks a thousand words through his unique posture and character movements. Without Félix, Sauvage wouldn’t have nearly worked as well as it did.
Although some may say that the graphic content in Sauvage may be aimless and just for shock value (which I could agree with a couple of scenes which appear in the film), it’s arguable that within it’s deplorable acts, Sauvage carefully details and illustrates a crucial topic which all of us should face. People like Leo live and “work” in city’s just like ours, and the fact that prostitution rates have risen throughout the years is even more heartbreaking. Cinema can transport you in ways one could never expect, and with Sauvage, we learn about a flawed character, who refuses to change, even though his current status is killing his very body. We must learn from these characters (even if they’re fictitious), and interpret what art can say through thematically driven pathos. With the final shot of film, we see Leo, laying on the ground, in a forest area, resting, as the sounds of nature swell the environment and transport us into a wonderland of pain and suffering.
Strand Releasing Will Release Sauvage In Select Cinemas On April 10, 2019