Les beaux gosses -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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CANNES -- The John Hughes-style teen comedy has been revived in France. A smart and raunchy glimpse into the turbulent world of 14-year-olds, "Les beaux gosses" could be a popular play at film festivals. It met with appreciative laughter at its Directors' Fortnight screening here.

In this midschool romp, Vincent LaCoste stars as Herve, an astoundingly average French kid whose middling looks, mid-range intelligence and modest means don't distinguish him at all. Lacking the teenage allure of the bad boys and the brute savoir faire of the alpha males, Herve has little luck with girls.

Herve, however, is not without luck when one of the more attractive girls in the class develops a predatory crush on him. This confounds Herve as much as it stimulates him. Regarded by his peers as a mismatch, it naturally sets off all sorts of reverberating rumors and hostile jealousy.

With a kind but shrewd insight into adolescent behavior, filmmaker Riad Sartouf has ripped out a rowdy but sympathetic depiction of teenage woes. Herve, like his classmates, is charged up with hormones: Like most 14-year-old males, he's hard-on and hard-up.

Milking the kids' highly charged sexual states with their clumsy social skills, filmmaker Sattouf has knocked out a farcical but realistic depiction of young teenagers. Like Hughes' movies, "The French Kissers" is often funniest when mocking teenage authority figures: The teachers and parents are truly a peculiar lot in Herve's world, particularly a depressive mother who regularly teases him about masturbation.

Sartouff scathes teen behavior as well, including the thoughtless cruelty and dunderheaded conduct that characterizes that age group. Overall, "Les beaux gosses" is funny because it rings true, in any language.

Festival de Cannes -- Directors' Fortnight

Production companies:Les Films des Tournelles, Pathe Studio 37 with the participation of Canal Plus

Cast: Vincent Lacoste, Anthony Sonigo, Alice Termolieres, Noemie Lvovsky, Emmanuelle Devos, Irene Jacob, Valeria Golino
Director: Riad Sattouf
Screenwriter: Riad Sattouf, Marc Syrigas
Producer: Anne-Dominique Toussaint
Director of photography: Dominique Colin
Costume designer: Melanie Gautier
Editor: Virginie Bruant

No rating, 90 minutes