Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Both stars are excellent; Grenier, who does most of the heavy lifting, transforms over the course of 17 minutes in a way that makes him almost unrecognisable."

Tyler (Félix Grenier) and Benjamin (Alexandre Perreault) are having a day of fun, running wild in the empty areas some distance from their homes. They play on abandoned railway tracks, in half-demolished houses and among the machinery beside a mine. A complex game of one-upmanship is involved, each trying to get a response out of the other to something that turns out not to be real. Benjamin is winning, leading to frustration on Tyler's part, yet they have that deep-rooted camaraderie sometimes present in lifelong friendships, and all the rough and tumble is taken in good spirits. This is a tale full of joy and freedom until they wander down into the mine itself, where something awful happens.

Jérémy Comte's short takes us into territory that will terrify parents but does so with full awareness of how much this freedom means to kids that age, how invigorating they find it and how naturally it comes to them. Like all young animals, they are exploring their environment and one another's boundaries, constantly courting danger to find out where the edge is. They may well have been told not to play in places like this but we don't get the impression they've been told why, or have in any way been prepared to know what to do if something goes wrong. The vast pale grey slopes around the mine look like a lunar landscape, emphasising how far away these boys are from sources of help and also showing how strange the world has become after the incident has happened. Comte keeps his camera closely focused on the pair up until then; it is only when he draws it back that we really understand how small they are.

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Distressing as it is, there's nothing in this film that makes it inappropriate for children of a similar age to watch, and it's a powerful cautionary tale. Both stars are excellent; Grenier, who does most of the heavy lifting, transforms over the course of 17 minutes in a way that makes him almost unrecognisable. Even in the close-ups, Comte has a strong sense of how the boys fit into the landscape, so it feels at times as if we're watching a nature film. Their playful confidence, their laughter, invite us to share their belief in their invincibility, perhaps rediscovering an animal part of ourselves, so that nothing they do really seems unreasonable even when it is a very, very bad idea.

Already the recipient of multiple awards, Fauve is a powerful little film as seductive as it is devastating. it's a reminder that no matter how much power any of us might have over others, there are always greater powers out there, and sometimes the world doesn't want to play by our rules.

Reviewed on: 07 Nov 2018
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Fauve packshot
Two boys get out of their depth when playing a fun but dangerous game.

Director: Jérémy Comte

Writer: Jérémy Comte

Starring: Félix Grenier, Alexandre Perreault, Félix Grenier, Alexandre Perreault

Year: 2018

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: Canada


Sundance 2018

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