At the beginning of the provocative drama "Wild Side," currently playing in New York and Los Angeles, androgynous singer Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) sings a song titled "Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" to an audience of transsexuals. Director Sebastien Lifshitz's choice of performer is appropriate since his film claims to be inspired by "Walk on the Wild Side," the classic rock song written Lou Reed, with whom Antony has frequently collaborated.
Anyone who knows the lyrics to that song might guess the film's subject matter, which has to do with the triangular relationship among three disparate types living together in Paris: Stephanie (Stephanie Michelini), a beautiful, 32-year-old, pre-operative transsexual prostitute; her bisexual lover Jamel (Yasmine Belmadi), a French Arab who also works the streets; and Mikhail (Edouard Nikitine), an illegal Russian immigrant and former soldier.
..."Wild Side," which has several fairly explicit sex scenes, is stronger on mood and character study than narrative, with the story line often languishing for long stretches in a stylish but tedious haze. Well compensating for this are the highly authentic performances by the lead performers and the impressive technical aspects. Cinematographer Agnes Godard's beautiful widescreen cinematography rivals the acclaimed work she did in films like "Beau Travail," and Jocelyn Pook ("Eyes Wide Shut") provides a haunting musical score.
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