Wild Side

The last time a movie full of transsexuals was released was probably Thailand's The Iron Ladies (probably because one can never be sure about these things). France's Wild Side is another trip into the seamy world of transsexuals in France. And if this movie is any indication, they lead a pretty dull life punctuated by random sex and other stuff. Okay, that's not really fair, but Wild Side moves a bit too slowly and is light on plot. Director Sebastien Lifshitz (The Crossing, Come Undone), who co-wrote the story with Stephane Bouquet (The Crossing, Come Undone) are more concerned with creating a mood than anything else.

While this is admirable, they need both in order to have a successful movie. As it stands, Wild Side reflects the bleak life of its protagonist, Stephanie (Stephanie Michelini). Michelini is really a transsexual, and the proof is on display (often) for all to see, pretty much rendering this film unwatchable for most of the public. She is an outsider in pretty much every sense of the word. She lives on the fringes of society, turning tricks in order to make money. Mikhail (Edouard Nikitine) is her lover. Stephanie's life changes when she learns her mother (Josiane Stoleru, Nickel and Dime, A Piece of Sky) is ill.

The two have not spoken for a long time, but Stephanie still returns home to care for her. Mikhail goes with her, and another friend/lover, Djamel (Yasmine Belmadi, Only Girls, Who Killed Bambi?) joins them. Stephanie cares for her mother while Djamel and Mikhail do random things like play soccer and make love. At night, Stephanie turns tricks, and every once in a while, she reconnects with some of the people from her childhood. Flashbacks occur throughout the film showing Stephanie as a child. At this point in time, she was a boy with long hair named Pierre. The flashbacks shed some light on the person (woman) she is today, but otherwise, Lifshitz does not do a good job of making the audience empathize with the characters. Yes, being a prostitute is hard, and being a transsexual is harder. So what? He takes the easy way out by adding lots of sex to try and shock the audience instead of adding depth to the film. The really sad aspect - for a film entitled Wild Side, it's not very wild at all.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 33 minutes, French, English, and Russian with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, sexuality, and language, an easy NC-17.

Back to Movies