a film by Sébastien Lifshitz
2004 | 93 mins | France
›› Wild Side
an unconventional take on an unconventional relationship.
Wild Side by Sébastien Lifshitz Ingrained with the haunting feel of Presque Rien, here director and co-writer Sébastien Lifshitz delivers a film that whilst detailing the raw reality of the sex trade, is more a work of reconciliation.

For returning to the isolated country surroundings of her birth to take care of her terminally ill mother, transsexual prostitute Stéphanie is forced to confront her past, when memories of her life as a boy come flooding back. Only she is not alone in coming to terms with years gone by, as her two lovers, Djamel; a young bisexual hustler who works the Parisian train circuit and Mikhail; an ex Russian soldier turned immigrant worker equally hold a checkered history. Only is a wind of change about to be found blowing in their direction?

Wild Side by Sébastien Lifshitz Laced with periods of contemplative silence, Lifshitz clearly has taken delight in contrasting the bond between a close-knit transgendered community with graphic acts of sexual frankness and nudity, being in effect one of the most realistic depictions of transsexual prostitution that you're ever likely to see; far from erotic, but neither judgmental. Then again, Lifshitz is aided by the wonderfully natural performance of real life transsexual Stéphanie Michelini, resulting with an achingly intimate portrait of a soul yearning, if not earning the money to be the woman she all but physically is. It is a role that plays beautifully against Josiane Stoléru's portrayal of an ailing mother with little option but to face the sexuality of her newfound daughter.

Yet such is the nature of the script, that Stéphanie is not alone in having a cross to bear, with Mikhail's acute hankering for his native country vividly depicted against a backdrop of Djamel's estranged relationship with his family, coupled with Stéphanie's heartrending longing for the father and sister who exited stage left when she, was still a he. That their bond forms an unusual ménage à trois, is not in doubt. Yet it works for them, having found in each other's arms a fulfillment of the desire to love and to be loved. For it is here that Lifshitz triumphs, having delivered a remarkably unconventional take on an unconventional relationship, namely those who and as in the Lou Reed classic, walk, if not live, on the wide side of life. And the fact that Lifshitz cast a transsexual in the role of a transsexual is cinematically speaking, long overdue.

Yasmine Belmadi | 1976 - 2009 | RIP.

Gay / Trans Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 27.February.2012 / UK.
starring: Stéphanie Michelini / Stéphanie, Yasmine Belmadi / Djamel, Josiane Stoléru / the Mother,
Edouard Nikitine / Mikhail, Perrine Stevenard / Caroline and Christophe Sermet as Nicolas.
Revised and Copyright 2011 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #192
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