The point of departure for the distinctive “Garcon Stupide” is unusual, to say the least. Twenty-year-old Loic (Pierre Chatagny), a chocolate factory worker in Bulle in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, is caught up in online sex, which takes him frequently to Lausanne.
In the first of these encounters, Loic is in a car with an unseen older man in the driver’s seat. This man, whom Loic calls Lionel, is the film’s director and co-writer Lionel Baier, although he’s in effect playing a character and not simply himself.
Instead of requesting sex, the man asks Loic about himself -- his thoughts, ideas, dreams and plans. Throughout the film Lionel and Loic will meet occasionally, and Lionel in effect becomes the mirror in which Loic is able to see himself in the process of self-discovery. Baier chose Chatagny -- who actually was a chocolate factory worker -- from many nonprofessionals answering Baier’s ad for a lead actor. The film was shot on weekends and on evenings when Chatagny was off from his job.
The story Baier and co-writer Laurent Guido build around Chatagny has Loic heading to Lausanne regularly for endless rounds of impersonal sexual trysts, which he relates in unsolicited detail to his longtime friend Marie (Natacha Koutchoumov), who lets him stay in her apartment, even sharing her bed.
Marie is an intelligent and lovely student working as a receptionist at a natural history museum. She tells Loic nobody knows her better than he, which if true is sad, because he is as uneducated as she is intellectually sophisticated. He also is totally unaware she is hopelessly in love with him. Having never experienced it, he never considers that he may be looking for love in countless brief sexual encounters.
Marie’s feelings for the handsome Loic are easy to understand. Marie and Lionel are drawn to Loic because of his openness and his curiosity. The gradual flowering of his mind and heart prompts an occasional amusing awkwardness that becomes the core of the film as Loic ultimately becomes aware of what he does not want to be, even if he is unsure of what he does want to be.
Loic’s journey is rich in incident and detail, and “Garcon Stupide” retains its dynamic momentum throughout. Chatagny, from whom Baier drew a totally natural and unselfconscious portrayal, may never go on to a film career or lead a life of notable achievement, but “Garcon Stupide” will endure as a record of that special moment when a boy becomes a man.
MPAA rating: Unrated
Times guidelines: Nudity, blunt sex and language, adult themes
A Picture This! Entertainment release. Director Lionel Baier. Screenplay Baier, Laurent Guido. Cinematographers Severine Barde, Baier. Editor Christine Hoffet. Music selections by Sergei Rachmaninoff. In French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
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