Sauvage is challenging.

Firstly, the backdrop of the drama is one of beauty. The actors are beautiful, as is the world they inhabit. We never see it rain. Further, the film is no nightmare of what it is to be working as a street prostitute.

There are dangers and a good many people to be avoided, but just as often people reveal themselves to be kind, compassionate, and hungry for intimacy.

The characters don’t really have anything conventional; the job itself doesn’t seem to lend any kind of structure to their lives outside of necessity. Most of their time seems to be absorbed in filling themselves with sensation, whether that be sex, food, drugs, or watching aeroplanes landing up close.

One reviewer has described the film as a downward spiral, and that’s exactly the kind of bourgeois reading someone like Jean Genet would react against. There are monsters and there are angels, possibly more vivid and terrifying than the wan shadows that gild the margins of the middle-class world.

However, they don’t appear with any sort of rhythm. They just appear when they do and the film’s protagonist seems to be able to absorb them with a relative degree of equanimity.

The film is quite a well-told story in the cinema verite style, and the first-time director gets the ingredients right: elegant locations, clear shots, very little manipulation of the viewer through camera movement and angles – most of the kinesis relies on the editing.

Sauvage is deeply confronting in the way it reveals its closing sequence. There is no editorial; a simple presentation of the flower of the protagonist’s youth set in its essential milieu.

The film’s final scene sets the tone for a new beginning, possibly the start of an even more harrowing chapter in the protagonist’s life, but it is the only ending the film could have.

The fact that the film stayed with me for some days after is the proof of its truth.

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