Les Apaches

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Peretti lets his violence resonate, keeping it mostly offscreen but letting it echo ominously in the animalistic tendencies of the teens."

"We've got to have fun, enjoy life and stuff," says one of the characters towards the end of actor-turned-director Thierry de Peretti's ode to doomed youth. You can feel the irony dripping thickly from every word, as what constitutes 'fun' for the group of teens depicted here is a testosterone jolt away from something much more malign.

Peretti and co-writer Benjamin Baroche - whose film debuted in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes - are unlikely to be winning any accolades from the Corsican tourist board for their depiction of the island as a hinterland of prejudice. As the wind whistles constantly across the dusty landscape, a breeze of racism and class boundaries blows just as strongly through the life of Aziz (Aziz El Hadachi) and his pals Hamza (Hamza Mezziani) and Fran├žois-Jo (Fran├žois-Joseph Cullioli).

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Like many teenagers, they harbour a potentially troublesome mix of resentments and the desire to push at the boundaries, so when Aziz suggests that they crash the holiday home of the 'Frenchies' that his dad looks after for an night of hedonism, they jump at the chance. Drink and friction lead to a spot of theft but that merely marks the beginning of a story, which Peretti and Baroche use to explore the way a situation can slide from dead cool to simply deadly.

Peretti shoots much of the early part of the film in a sickly half-light and pool reflection, his camera voyeuristically peering in from a distance. It's atmospheric but the gloom means it takes a while for the characters to fully take shape. Once they have, however, the tension escalates. The climax may be inevitable but it is while we wait for it to happen that we begin to consider the social implications of what we are observing. Materialism is everywhere, from the consumerist attitude of the French tourists who cause trouble largely because they can, to the teenagers who, when shown a video of a dead guy, react with the chilling observation: "You've got great definition on your phone." And when all anyone cares about is objects of desire, loyalty soon becomes a worthless commodity.

Peretti's violence resonates. Mostly kept offscreen, it echoes ominously in the animalistic tendencies of the teens - from their troughing of food to their frenzied digging of dirt with their bare hands - or in something as surprising as the bump and swoosh of a carwash. All along, you sense he knows what makes these kids tick, even as you wish he didn't.

Reviewed on: 12 Nov 2013
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A casual theft leads to trouble for a group of young friends.

Director: Thierry de Peretti

Writer: Benjamin Baroche, Thierry de Peretti

Starring: Aziz El Hadachi, François-Joseph Cullioli, Hamza Mezziani, Maryne Cayon, Joseph-Marie Ebrard

Year: 2013

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: France


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