Last night, PJ and I watched Fögi Is a Bastard, a 1999 French movie about a 15-year-old boy named Beni who meets and falls in love with Fögi, the lead singer of a rock band. Here’s the trailer:

The movie stars Vincent Branchet as Beni, who starts the movie as a shy, innocent kid who simply has a crush on his idol. Once Fögi, played by Frédéric Andrau, seduces him, however, the two begin a downward spiral of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that may ultimately cost them their lives. (Does that sound like it comes from the back-of-the-dvd?)

Branchet is great as Beni. We immediately take his point of view as our own, and I think it would be difficult for any gay guy who’s ever had a crush on a seemingly unobtainable hero-figure not to identify with Beni.

Plus, Fögi is totally hot. And he also introduces Beni to sex with some gentleness and care, which makes the fulfillment of Beni’s dreams all the sweeter. This picture from the movie is of Andrau/Fögi on the left and Branchet/Beni on the right. As you can see, Andrau/Fögi also has the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing going on.

Everything goes well for the new couple until Fögi has a relapse into hard drug use. (We learn that it’s a relapse from Fögi’s bandmate and best friend, Töbe, played by Urs Peter Halter, who has the worst hair that I’ve seen in a movie lately. Couldn’t they get a better wig?!) The descent into drugs causes Fögi to lose interest in his band. Eventually he begins dealing; when Beni starts getting propositioned by older gay men, Fögi whores him out to them.

Some of this section of the movie is a bit hard to take. PJ and I kept getting vocally frustrated by Beni’s choices, his willingness to abject himself in order to keep Fögi, who constantly threatens to kick him out of their apartment. For example, Beni not only becomes his houseboy but also becomes his pet, accepting mindgames and abuse as part of the condition under which he stays. We know from the beginning moments of the film that Beni eventually overdoses and that he most likely survives the overdose. In a sense, the plot of the film shows us why and how this happens.

I think PJ liked this movie less than I did. In a bizarre way, I ended up thinking it was kind of a sweet love story combined with an interesting examination of the question, “What should one be willing to do to keep the man you love?” Both Brachet and Andrau are excellent. There are moments of great love between them, as well as moments when one or the other becomes monstrous. Both actors handle the extremes well.

Fögi Is a Bastard isn’t an easy film to watch, but I think it is a good one. It definitely kept my interest as it went along. While I wouldn’t normally like the way it ends, I thought the movie earned its ending in this case. As another blogger has written, “Despite the heavy material it is never becomes oppressive.” I agree. In fact, there’s a way in which the movie (in a bittersweet way) is life- and love-affirming. I liked it.

[PJ’s brief response: You’re right. I didn’t care much for this movie. For a better movie about a essentially sado-masochistic relationship, though a heterosexual one, I’d recommend Secretary, starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Unlike Fogi, this one, I think, actually did have a sweet side to it.]