Eastern Boys is a work of art, no two ways about it. Robin Campillo’s explorative look into the balance of power in human relationships is at once incredibly well thought out and meticulous, while at the same time vibrant and impulsive.
With Eastern Boys, Campillo tells the complicated love story of Daniel, a middle-aged business man, and Marek, an illegal immigrant and prostitute. As such, one might go so far as to expect a certain amount of tenderness to be exchanged between the two characters, as their feelings for each other evolve.
The tenderness that Campillo presents to us is brilliantly executed by Olivier Rabourdin as Daniel and Kirill Emelyanov as Marek. Somehow their sexual encounters are infused with an unrelenting realism as Emelyanov’s at first determinedly stoic face is mirrored by Rabourdin’s sombre and tender desperation. However, what one certainly doesn’t expect is the way Campillo deals with the balance of power between his characters. When Marek’s Boss intimidates Daniel, he does it quietly. When his gang breaks into Daniel’s flat, they do it almost politely, throwing a party and offering Daniel a drink of his own alcohol before they strip his flat bare. And yet, without laying a hand on Daniel in anger, the boss and his gang are threatening and the tension is palpable.
In a similar manner, it is continuously obvious in every scene who has the power. Campillo masterfully reaps the tension and conflict created when his characters try to shift the balance. Campillo presents us with all of this, neatly juxtaposed with Daniel and Marek’s evolving relationship as their liaisons warmly shift from a paid arrangement into something more.
It’s obvious that Campillo has put thought into every minute detail of his film. And it pays off tenfold. Every shot, every character nuance gives the impression that it was planned to the letter, and whether this is actually the case or not, the film is a masterpiece because of it.
Eastern Boys is released nationwide on 5th December 2014.
Watch the trailer for Eastern Boys here: