Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story), or as the French like to call it, Bang Gang (une histoire d’amour moderne), is the debut of Eva Husson, who took her latest film, Girls of the Sun, to Cannes earlier this year. Written and directed by Husson, the film kind of does what it says on the tin – there are blatant gangs and bangs, but the story of love is much more abstract.
Well, of course it is. Bang Gang follows a bunch of promiscuous, preoccupied teenagers in the south of France. This might be their summer of love, to the extent of sexual exploration, but also the damaging, lingering effects of the emotions that dwell within this younglings.
The film has had its share of controversy. Not just from the provocative title and plot outline, but there is an abundance of teenage nudity depicted here. A tantalizing game of Truth or Dare gradually escalates between these high school students. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, they are having private sex parties.
The principle characters experiment, take risks, and ultimately suffer the slings and arrows of adolescent temperament. They literally screw around, try to get one over on friends, come-of-age to some extent – even discover the kind of consequential emotions we become more accustomed to in adulthood.
Blonde girl, George (Marilyn Lima – cast via Tumblr no less) sleeps around a little, and garners the unfortunate reputation as a result. Her old flame, Alex (Finnegan Oldfield), is looking to fuck around elsewhere as a kind of petulant revenge. Then there is the quiet, inexperienced Letitia (Daisy Broom), whom George has taken under her wing. And Gabriel, the most subdued of the gang (Lorenzo Lefebvre), and aspiring musician.
Their participation in orgies, to get straight to the point, is hardly pornographic, in answer to the claims this is explicit. Sure, the teenagers strip off whenever they feel the need, probably about as casual as their respective mood swingers. The explorations, not just the actual sex acts, border on exhibitionism, or just plain liberation. Not exactly an advert for body image, but Husson doesn’t suggest such motives.
These semi-privileged teens stumble through the awkwardness and revitalization of sexual exploits. And in the age of Snapchat and YouTube, this hormonal social network of young adults get to find a reflection of themselves, in all their shameful glory – and might not like what they see, behavior-wise.
This is not the flamboyant 1960s, nor is this a viable time for a sex rebellion. Syphilis and pregnancy can be prevented, and treated, but not with a magic wand. There are endless ways a teenager can face reality. In Bang Gang, this reality gradually hits some harder than others. Personalities clash, but develop, and genuine streams of loneliness and regret are there for the accepting.
Husson directs with a fluid fashion. An unflinching look, not quite voyeuristic, at the young world of sexual and self discovery. The story-line right through the center appears to play second fiddle to the bouts of flesh. Except to say, the eventual courtship of George and Gabriel is something you long for.
The sunshiny, hazy cinematography from Mattias Troelstrup is like a breath of fresh air for the most part. And even though the amount of flesh on display is more than ample, the camera respects rather than exploits such images. Easily comparable to Larry Clark’s Kids, much less of a punch to the throat. Also, films like The Rules of Attraction or Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto, make great companion pieces too. Portraying a young world, somewhat glossy and bright, but hitting hard enough to really mean something.