Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
A businessman and a young hustler become unlikely companions in jeopardy in this erotically adrenalised nail-biter, directed with bracing precision by Robin Campillo. It begins when Daniel, a well-heeled 50-something, recklessly propositions one of the young Ukrainians loitering with intent around Paris’s Gare du Nord. The young man, Marek, accepts the assignation without enthusiasm. Daniel, in an agony of desire, hands over his address. The terrifying house party that ensues leaves Daniel stripped of everything he owns. But Marek has more surprises to deliver and his professed desire to get off the game awakens an unexpected protective instinct in the older man. As they second-guess each other and Marek’s gang connections close in, the shocks come thick and fast, but there’s nothing about their fraught pas de deux that doesn’t make perfect sense. While French cinema has long fetishised prostitution, it’s striking that the most incisive and sociologically resonant depiction of sex for sale in recent memory is a thriller in which women hardly figure. Fans of Laurent Cantet (The Class, Human Resources) won’t be surprised that Campillo is his long-time collaborator.