Jacques Braal puts an engaging and original, grace-tinged spin on boy-meets-girl in “Mauvais Garcon,” his first film in 10 years. Handsome young leads are aces in contemporary love story set in Paris. Pic could perform nicely at Gallic wickets, if good word of mouth develops. Fest programmers should take note.
The morning he’s paroled from prison, petty thief Thomas (Bruno Wolkowitch) discovers his girlfriend in bed with another man. Appealing, soft-spoken Thomas — whose lifestyle amounts to taking what he wants — burgles an apartment or two and expediently seduces a few women before endeavoring to pick up stern, highly attractive Lea (Delphine Forest), who tries to shake her new admirer but eventually succumbs to his persistent charm.
Wolkowitch mixes wry and devilish charisma as the selfish no-goodnik who can shoplift a live lobster and scale the outside of a building with equal aplomb.
Forest shines as the don’t-mess-with-me beauty who has reasons of her own for resisting such a diligent suitor. Classical-style score is sometimes overbearing and camerawork occasionally calls attention to itself. But the tone is so intriguing that the narrative doesn’t suffer.
Protagonist’s redemption echoes pix from Bresson’s “Pickpocket” to Paul Schrader’s “Light Sleeper,” yet Braal makes the outcome humorous and just new enough to satisfy.
Inside joke — when couple goes to the movies together, the pic on screen is Sam Fuller’s “Street of No Return,” which Braal produced.