Eastern Boys – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

February 22, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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At Paris’s Gare du Nord station, a group of boys – some teenagers, some younger – are hanging around, constantly moving and regrouping. There are at least dozen, fluidly crisscrossing the station.  Who are they? What are they up to? What language are they speaking? It’s certainly not French.

This very long scene, mostly shot from above, is the intriguing introduction to the Eastern Boys of the title. You won’t have to wait long to find out where they’re from and what they’re up to.

A middle-aged man, Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin), follows one of the boys, Marek (Kirill Emelyanov). “I do everything,” says Marek when Daniel catches up with him under the station stairs.  It’s 50 euros, and Marek insists they should get together at Daniel’s home.

Daniel lives alone in a high-rise modern block in an outer suburb, far removed from the Paris of most movies.  The next evening, a voice on Daniel’s intercom introduces itself as “Marek”. Daniel opens his door only to admit a tumult that will change his well-ordered life forever.

That’s probably about as much as any reviewer should say about what happens in this second feature from writer/director Robin Campillo which won Best Film at the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section .

The central strand of the film is the relationship between Daniel and Marek, a purely commercial affair which slowly changes to something much deeper and more profound.

But the closer Marek gets to Daniel, the more distant he becomes from his gang and its leader, “Boss” (Danil Vorobyev) who is at once both charismatic and distinctly menacing.   Boss has a firm grip on his lost boys and is unlikely to give one up without a fight. The dramatic tension builds towards an inevitably violent conclusion.

This is an ambitious film; the evolving relationship between Daniel and Marek is no easy subject. Yet Campillo handles it in a sensitive and convincing manner.

The performances are all very strong, and ultimately Eastern Boys is an essay on the need to belong.



3.5/5 Limited release February 26 Rated  MA15+

In French with English subtitles  128mins

Starring Olivier Rabourdin, Kirill Emelyanov, Danil Vorobyev

Written and directed by Robin Campillo


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