What to watch: The Lost Boys

An assured debut film from Zeno Graton.

What to watch: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys - Le Paradis - is the debut feature film from writer/director Zeno Graton.

The film gives us the story of Joe (Khalil Ben Gharbia). After serving a 6-month sentence and about to turn 18, Joe is on the brink of being released from a youth detention centre. However, the arrival of a new detainee - William (Julien De Saint Jean) - surfaces conflicting emotions within Joe and he begins to question whether he can ever be free.

On one level, you could say that not a lot happens in The Lost Boys, but you can feel the tension as the characters struggle with trying to make sense of the world that they find themselves in and the emotions that they're grappling with. But the narrative is also satisfying - it's impossible not to feel empathy with Joe and the unenviable situation in which he finds himself.

There are echoes of Beau Travail by Claire Denis, observing a homosocial space, finding comfort in repetition and routine, acknowledging the power of masculine energy, and demonstrating how intimacy is expressed between men.

The backstories and motivations of the characters are hinted at, but - refreshingly - we're not subjected to any exposition. We are where we are, the story unfolds as it unfolds.

This is assured filmmaking and restrained storytelling. Actions speak, as they should in a world of young men who struggle to articulate what they're experiencing.

The cast is excellent. As Joe, Khalil Ben Gharbia is quietly expressive - his face readily transmits what his character is feeling, even when it's clear that the character isn't sure how to process those feelings. Julien De Saint Jean brings his brooding intensity to the role of William. Eye Haidara, who is the official supervising the boys in the detention centre, feels very authentic in an understated performance.

As well as being a well-crafted film that's compelling to watch, The Lost Boys also highlights the obvious limitations of the justice system - everything seems designed to push marginalised young men deeper into marginalisation.

This is definitely a film that's worth adding to your watch-list.

The Lost Boys is distributed by Peccadillo Pictures

Follow Gareth Johnson on Twitter