The cute, gold-digging slut who really just needs to be loved is as common to gay movies as Meg Ryan is to straight romantic comedies. They're both fantasy creations dreamed up by (usually male) filmmakers in order to give certain audiences gay men and lonely, middle-aged women the hope that true love thrives, even under the most improbable circumstances. Of course, so can weight gain and STDs, but this is the movies, and we like our love interests crab- and fat-free.
Once you get past its gritty, arty facade, the new Swiss film Garçon Stupide isn't all that different from your usual hustler-with-a-heart flick. The fantasy object here is Loïc (Pierre Chatagny), a lanky 20-year-old with a pierced brow and a penchant for kinky sex with anonymous johns. Meeting an endless succession of men on the Internet, he loves 'em and leaves 'em, swiping pills from the medicine cabinet and taking cash if it's offered. His whoring doesn't sit well with his roommate, Marie (Natacha Koutchoumov), a museum worker who acts like a doting big sister. Her tolerance for his nightly fuckfests is running thin. Luckily, one of Loïc's random tricks, Lionel (Lionel Baier, also the film's director and co-writer), turns out to want something more than sex: He wants to challenge the young man's mind.
This would be all fine and good if Loïc seemed like he had anything to offer other than a hot piece of ass. But as performed by newcomer Chatagny, he's a lazy, selfish, directionless blank slate, and it's hard to understand why Lionel or anyone else would want to invest the time or effort for anything more than a no-strings-attached quickie. A charity case like Loïc may be a co-dependent's dream, but he makes for an awfully boring protagonist. His emotional transformation, when it finally does happen, is forced and unconvincing. Luckily, the bright, engaging Koutchoumov expresses at least some of the audience's frustrations. "I'm too old to baby-sit and too young to play mom," she snaps, echoing the age-old complaint of many a fag hag.
Baier intensifies the film's problems by shooting the movie in amateurish digital video and loading up the sound track with bombastic, incongruous Rachmaninoff symphonies. In an attempt at realism, there is a lot of drab and explicit sex, which wouldn't be so bad if the director didn't pretentiously intercut the fuck scenes with shots of stuffed birds in a museum, or factory machinery. Yes, we get it, the point is abundantly clear: Loïc's sex life is deadening him. We don't need to see one of his portly conquests wiping off his butthole with a paper towel to drive the point home, thank you very much.
In French with English subtitles. Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111).
Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.