Teddy (2020)

Director: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Writer: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Cast: Anthony Bajon, Christine Gautier, Ludovic Torrent, Guillaume Mattera, Jean-Michel Ricart, Alain Boitel, Noémie Lvovsky
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 28.9.2021

Content Note: sexualized harrassment

Teddy (Anthony Bajon) is widely considered the bad apple of his small village. He dreams big, but his reality is pretty small. Living with elderly relatives he has to care for, he works at a massage parlor where his employer Ghislaine (Noémie Lvovsky) is too touchy. More often than not, Teddy gets into fights. Not even his girlfriend Rebecca’s (Christine Gautier) parents like him, but at least Rebecca does. And then Teddy gets scratched by some creature and his life gets even worse.

Teddy starts as a whole lot of fun, but soon takes a turn towards darkness that I found unsatisfying and a little shoddily handled. But until then, I liked it a lot.

The film poster showing Teddy (Anthony Bajon) standing in front of a yellow curtain. There is a werewolf paw pushing through the curtain and laying on his shoulder.

Teddy starts out, as I said, as a comedy and I thought that it would stick with that tone. Unfortunately, the film had other plans and things get darker and darker the longer it goes on. It’s a change that I didn’t appreciate, to be honest. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t expect it (although I was looking forward to a horror comedy after Hunter Hunter), but that the ending feeds into this already way too widespread notion that poor, poorly educated men with a certain propensity for violence are hopeless cases. And I hate that take.

If that was a take that the film wanted to criticize, I could have gotten behind it. But the film doesn’t seem to question it. It is a little too busy with other stuff to focus on the implication in its narrative, I’m afraid. It made me wish that the film focused more on Teddy’s warm side, especially since Bajon is so fantastic in the role that he manages to show both Teddy’s abrasiveness and his dreamy side, his short temper and the care he takes of others. I just wanted Teddy to have a chance, but the film is as unwilling to give him one as the village he lives in.

Teddy (Anthony Bajon) looking at his eye in the mirror.

But despite the hopelessness that steals its way into the film (and despite the fact that the film finds it very funny that Teddy is harrassed by his employer – she is a woman after all, and he is a man, so haha or something), I did enjoy big chunks of it, especially whenever Teddy interacts with his family, and the small body horror moments that were perfectly excellent.

So there is definitely enough to like about the film to give it a try. If only for Bajon and his performance. Just don’t expect too much laughter and lightness.

Teddy (Anthony Bajon) discussing his plans with Rebecca (Christine Gautier).

Summarizing: would have profited from being a little more light-hearted, but still worth it.

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