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F. Is a Bastard

A tedious tale of half-requited love between a 16-year-old boy and an older rock musician, "F. Is a Bastard" looks set for a career at only the most undiscriminating gay fests. This standout clinker of the Locarno competition is shot, scripted, acted and staged in desultory fashion.

A tedious tale of half-requited love between a 16-year-old boy and an older rock musician, “F. Is a Bastard” looks set for a career at only the most undiscriminating gay fests. This standout clinker of the Locarno competition is shot, scripted, acted and staged in desultory fashion.

Young Beni (Vincent Branchet) is infatuated with Foegi (Frederic Andrau), lead singer of the Minks, and after writing him a love letter is soon sharing his life and bed. Foegi, however, sleeps around, and when he returns from a winter break in Lebanon is distinctly cool toward the pining Beni, who nevertheless submits to Foegi’s semi-sadistic treatment and even agrees to sleep with other men to bankroll the musician’s drug habit. Things get so bad that Beni starts wearing a collar and imagining he’s a dog.

Set in Zurich during the more lax, AIDS-free early ’70s, the low-budget pic has a boxy, TV look and almost zero sense of drama. Beni’s canine-like devotion to the flashing-eyed, self-obsessed Foegi has to be taken on trust, as neither actors nor script make much of an effort to justify it in the depressing circumstances. Sex scenes are basically mild, and some actors appear to have been re-voiced in the French-language print caught. (Film also exists in a Swiss-German version.)

F. Is a Bastard

(DRAMA -- SWISS-FRENCH)

Production: A Filmcooperative release (in Switzerland) of a Vega Film (Switzerland)/Arena Films, Avventura Films (France) production, in association with WDR (Cologne) and Teleclub (Zurich). (International sales: Vega, Zurich.) Produced by Ruth Waldburger. Directed by Marcel Gisler. Screenplay, Gisler, Rudolf Nadler, from the novel by Martin Frank. Camera (color), Sophie Maintigneux; editor, Bettina Boehler; music, Rainer Lingk; art director, Hanspeter Redmond; sound (Dolby), Ingrid Staedeli, Florian Eidenbenz; assistant director, Judith Kennel. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 12, 1998. (Also in Montreal Film Festival --- Cinema of Today; Toronto Film Festival --- Contemporary World Cinema.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Frederic Andrau, Vincent Branchet, Urs-Peter Halter, Martin Schenkel, Jean-Pierre von Dach.

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