The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
With her debut feature, “Bang Gang,” Eva Husson captures the restless rhythms of adolescence—the push-pull of angst and boredom, of self-consciousness and the yearning to lose oneself completely.
The French writer/director has crafted an intimate snapshot of the modern life of privileged teens; the full title is, rather cheekily, “Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story),” although very little of it has to do with actual love. Thematically, Husson’s film most obviously calls to mind Larry Clark’s “Kids,” while stylistically, it appears Husson is borrowing from every movie Sofia Coppola has ever made. (The filmmaker herself says in the press notes that Paul Thomas Anderson and Lars Von Trier were major influences; meanwhile, there’s one specific image straight out of “The Graduate” that’s become a cinematic shorthand for expressing youthful isolation.)
What “Bang Gang” lacks in originality, though, it makes up for with mood and technical prowess. Husson favors long, dreamlike tracking shots that take us inside the extreme lifestyle choice these teens have made, capturing images that are both playful and startling. In short, these high schoolers engage in booze-and-drug-infused orgies where the only rule is that there are no rules. (“It’s now or never!” is the battle cry that goes out on group texts announcing these pop-up bacchanals.)
But just as her camera roams about and the teens freely shuffle among partners, Husson’s story meanders in narrative perspective, and that lack of focus ultimately gives “Bang Gang” a feeling of emptiness. As it builds to a climax (if you will), her film should have been gripping; instead, it ends up feeling like a melancholy glimmer.