Thierry de Peretti’s “Apaches” is an ensemble drama about a group of teenagers that sneak into a holiday cottage one night for a party and steal a few things including two antique rifles. When the owner tells an important local figure about it, a disastrous chain of events is set in place.
Corsica is a place where thousands of tourists invade the beaches and clubs and in this film while that is going on, five local teenagers spend their days aimlessly hanging out in the streets. One summer night, one invites the others to a vacant luxury villa where they spend the night swimming, drinking and hooking up. When they leave, they steal several valuables from the home, including two prize rifles. Upon returning from Paris to discover the theft and vandalism, the homeowner turns to a local crime boss for help, quickly igniting a chain reaction of violence and revenge the teens had never anticipated.
Right away we are intrigued by the way things happen and we sense the tension and even a tinge of fear. With that we also have some very fine performances that are naturalistic performances and provided by a young cast who give us interesting insight into the race and class issues faced by those living in a popular tourist area.
Aziz (Aziz El Hadachi) is a poverty-stricken Arab teenager whose father works at a luxurious villa. He tries to score some points with his buddies so he hosts a late night pool party at the villa. As can be expected things get out of hand and I have already described what happened. Aziz takes responsibility for the whole mess including the thefts. Even though he doesn’t snitch on his two friends, Francois-Jo (Francois Joseph Cullioli) comes up with a plan to insure that no one finds out about the valuable hunting rifle he took from the villa. We see that greed is a strong force in the lives of these adolescents who want more than they need.
Toward the end of the film, one of the characters says, “We’ve got to have fun, enjoy life and stuff,” and we can feel the irony dripping thickly from every word. It is their concept of fun that is unrealistic. But there is something much deeper here than kids looking for fun. Aziz and his pals Hamza (Hamza Mezziani) and François-Jo are like so many teens, they seen to have a potentially troublesome mix of resentments and they desire to push at the boundaries. When Aziz suggests that they crash the holiday home of the ‘Frenchies’ that his dad looks after for an night of hedonism, they jump at the chance. Mix drink and friction and we get a dangerous cocktail. We see early on that the caper is used to explore the way a situation can slide from dead cool to simply deadly.
Peretti shoots much of the early part of the film in a sickly half-light and pool reflection, his camera voyeuristically peering in from a distance. It’s atmospheric but the gloom means it takes a while for the characters to fully take shape. Once they have, things move fast. The climax may be inevitable but it is while we wait for it to happen that the viewer begins to understand the social implications of what we are observing. Materialism is everywhere as we see in the attitudes of the wealthy tourists. We also see the youth’s reaction to what they wish they had. When commodities become the reason for caring then loyalty becomes worthless.
The violence is the film happens off-screen but it echoes ominously in the animalistic tendencies of the teens. We immediately see what makes these kids act as they do (and we wish it was not true). We really get a sense of the kids and their yearning for freedom, money and girls. We also see where they are in society and we understand that they have strict parents who try to enforce respect and discipline. We wonder if their decisions and actions are justified and with all of the focus of the film on them, we are spoon-fed their thoughts and emotions.
We do not hear a lot of dialogue and instead we see a lot thus giving us time to think about what is happening. Once the scene is set and we have become acquainted with the characters, the pace of the film quickly picks up as things start to spiral out of control.
We get some great insights into youth, race and class issues and the young cast really displays the mentality of the younger generation.