Fogi is a Bastard
This is a superb movie yet so little known. It’s an amazing romance; it’s painful and sad and joyous and challenging and it’s got Frederic Andrau in as Fogi, who is reason enough to watch any film. To watch him making love to Vincent Branchet is almost too good to be true.
Beni is a very young, naïve rock fan who obsessively follows the singer Fogi and his band the Minks. One day he writes to Fogi, confessing his love and Fogi contacts him and begins an intense relationship. The scenes of the slow seduction are very sensual and some of the most erotic I’ve seen in all our gay movies. Inevitably, the relationship starts to sour, caused mostly by Fogi’s increasing dependence upon drugs.
Although set in the 1970s, and authentic, it’s not overpoweringly flower-power or hippie. Both Beni and Fogi look entirely modern, except for the occasional tie-dye T-shirt. I would certainly call the Minks’s music pretty timeless.
I’ve read a couple of reviews where Andrau is compared to Kenau Reeves, and the resemblance is quite striking. But I’d say add in a dash of Richard Gere at the peak of his charisma, rough him up a bit and you’ve pretty much got Fogi. He has to be beautiful because once the relationship turns sour, it turns painfully abusive (not particularly physical but emotional in a particularly vicious way). Unless you believe in Beni’s devotion and complete subjugation to his love for Fogi, then these scenes won’t work for you. They seemed completely authentic to me, a tribute to the acting of both lead men and Andrau’s beauty. It’s particularly sad because I genuinely think that Fogi loved Beni to start with. He’s openly affectionate with him and treats him with great love. To see drugs turn him from this kinda sweet guy into a self-hating monster is tragic. And however much he hurts Beni, Fogi hurts himself more. You can see his self-loathing shining from his eyes. He is every troubled creative soul fearful that his beauty and talent will fade. He’s James Dean. He’s Michael Hutchinson. The spiral down is intimate and painful between them yet somehow universal.
So, is Fogi a bastard? Watch this amazing movie and see what you think.
Well the title says it all really. Though whether or not that’s actually true is the focus of an involving story. Set in Zurich in 1973, the film captures its time pretty well, and features rather good original music.
When I bought the film I was looking for a KING OF CATS vibe, and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s a dysfunctional, destructive relationship and attractive but troubled characters with real problems you hope can be worked out somehow.
Fögi is a 26 year-old rock musician, lead singer in a band called the Minks. Sometime drug dealer and user. Openly gay, gorgeous, with saturnine good looks, lean, graceful and very sexy.
Beni is a normal 16 year-old kid, into music. He sees Fögi at a gig one night and falls in love- with a free and openly gay life as well as a hot and exciting man. Beni writes an adoring fan letter that captures Fögi’s attention. He fancies a piece of that sweet virginal body to counter fear of aging and creative failure. Beni’s slavish devotion and youthful enthusiasm are a real turn on to the disaffected & disconnected Fögi.
Fögi initiates Beni, who moves in to escape from unhappy family life. There are some very nice sex scenes, tender, sensual and carefully handled so despite the age difference there’s no question Beni knows what he wants and sets out to get it. Both actors are perfect in their roles, with such great chemistry you really believe who they are and the attraction between them.
For Beni it’s the passionate intensity of first love. Fögi affects jaded indifference; it’s just sex, an unequal relationship between an experienced man and sexually awakened youth that’s all about the moment, like the drugs he uses, and nothing more meaningful.
So of course inevitably Fögi loses interest and tires of Beni’s stifling adoration. This is when the tone of the film turns dark. Fögi pushes Beni into degrading submissiveness. Like Lahn in SURRENDER DOROTHY whose need for heroin made him play the perfect wife for Trevor, Beni is so desperate to stay he becomes Fögi’s dog. The S&M aspect is unsettling because it’s not something mutually agreed. However it’s believable as a natural progression of a tortuous relationship: love makes us do the unthinkable, something anyone can relate to.
Fögi returns to dealing drugs when the band breaks up because of creative differences and the singer’s increasing problems. Heroin escalates a downward spiral that threatens to swallow them both with grim inevitability. Beni is persuaded to hustle to support them, as Fögi becomes unable to function. But Beni won’t give up on Fögi, even as his love is tested to the limit
This isn’t an easy film but compelling. You have to make up your own mind about Fögi & Beni’s relationship. Is it love or exploitation? Is Fögi indeed a bastard? I admit I liked him despite appalling behaviour. Interesting to watch the gradual switch in the dynamic as Fögi’s incapacity gives Beni control. The final scenes on the beach at St Tropez are very affecting, and the ending surprisingly positive. Yet again a European film presents an honest, believable and unsugared view of gay love. Definitely recommended. (French with English subtitles.)