Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom, Transit) is thrilling as a foreign legionnaire fighting demons on the battlefront and urges on the dance floor in Giacomo Abbruzzese’s striking debut feature.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Proudly wearing its Beau Travail influence on its sleeve, Disco Boy explores the identity and trauma of soldiers whose bodies clash in combat – and converge again, at least in spirit and soul, through the catharsis of dance. The always magnetic Franz Rogowski is Aleksei, a Belarusian migrant with vive la France dreams, who quickly makes rank in the Foreign Legion as a path towards citizenship. Dispatched to oil-rich Niger Delta, where militia are fighting colonial exploitation, Aleksei kills out of instinct and is haunted by his actions back in France, where nightclubs are the escape of choice. Moody and unpredictable, with trance-like images and startling use of infrared light, this is a film bursting with poetic intensity.
“Abbruzzese is wrestling with the profound, frightening topics of identity, colonialism, violence, tribalism and power; and the choice to underline all this with dance and music elevates Disco Boy to something unusual … [Rogowski] has a compelling physical presence, with an incredible gift for being in the moment and paying attention, which means you literally can’t tear your eyes away from Aleksei no matter what he’s doing … The movie leaves an exceptional impression.” — Sarah Manvel, Critic’s Notebook