In the 1980s I attended a school where the teachers had a penchant for the Public Information Film. So much so, that I was convinced that a generation of children in the 1970s had perished. Violent, gory (Gorey?) deaths.
Public Information Films have changed a great deal since I was a child. Fauve is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. I’m joking of course, about the genre, not about the beauty. The locations chosen are stunning, textured expanses. Post-industrial rural Quebec, where nature is reasserting itself. This seemingly lawless place is the perfect playground for two bored kids. And that’s how it always starts. Urban myths, public information films, parental warnings. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
Parents are absent in Fauve, and our two protagonists, Tyler (Félix Grenier) and Benjamin (Alexandre Perreault) roam free. Their sparky friendship plays out as a series of pranks with the bravado of kids in their early teens. There is a certain age bracket, growing up, in which everything is a test. All boundaries are pushed, all of the time, and points are won through displays of machismo and pretending to be tougher and more worldly-wise than you really are. The gut-wrenching horror comes with the realisation that some mistakes cannot be fixed.
Director Jeremy Comte is immersed in the process of filmmaking. Known for Ce qu’il reste (2016), Paths (2014), and Rueda (2013), he has credits for cinematography, editing, writing and producing. Paths and Rueda are both documentary films, highlighting his fascination with the human condition. This interest in realism shines through in Fauve, for which Comte has rightly won a stack of awards. Although Fauve is not a PIF, it will leave the same impression as those government-commissioned films, albeit with the aesthetic of Stand by Me (1986).
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