It’s summer in Biarritz and a group of teenagers are leaving their relatively innocent youth behind when they begin to delve into sex and drugs. George (Marilyn Lima) likes Alex (Finnegan Oldfield) and thinks they might be falling for one another after they sleep together a couple of times, but then the rather callous young man rejects her so he can sleep with her friend.
George reacts by inventing the Bang Gang, a game of extreme dare that develops into drug and orgy fuelled parties where everyone is sleeping with everyone else (well, as long as they’re of a different gender, heterosexual and fairly good-looking) and no one bats an eyelid if someone is filming it (these young people and their selfies, after all). However, after a clip of one of the girls having sex gets uploaded onto Youtube and other issues emerge from what they’ve been up to, they each have to deal with the fallout.
Bang Gang is a bit of an odd film. It’s a film that from the title downwards almost seems designed to draw in an audience by having lots of young, nubile things having sex all over the place, but then spends much of the film tutting at them in a rather puritanical way, while pretending it isn’t. Sexual freedom is a sign of dysfunction and can only possibly lead to a litany of badness, while a more traditional path is rewarded.
Despite the amount of sex, the whole thing feels oddly conservative and rather simplistic. It does at least suggest the problems the experimentation causes aren’t the end of the world, but it’s still strangely like an after school special.
Even the sex scenes are oddly conservative. While a boy strips naked and shows off his peen early on, the rest of the movie is paradoxically obsessed with showing teenagers having sex while also being strangely coy about it. It’s a constant look but don’t look, trying to titillate while slightly sniffily suggesting it’s not about titillating and rather looking down on the characters it’s showing the flesh of.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at the problems young people face in the modern world, such as the ramifications of sexting and not be careful about sex. However, while at one point one of the characters ironically says what’s happened is a ‘modern fairytale’, the film’s oversimplified worldview dressed up as a probing look into modern day youth is actually pretty old-fashioned and nothing we haven’t heard a million times before and often in a less snooty way.
It actually made me wonder if my take on the movie was because of all the gay cinema I’ve watched and covered for this site, where sex may cause problems but it’s generally presented in a more evolved way. After all, Bang Gang has been generally well received by critics, and I wonder if that’s because ‘straight’ cinema is still rather stuck in the past when it comes to sex and the issues around it and hasn’t quite caught up with the reality in the way come gay-themed movies have (and yes, I am aware that’s not true of all gay films).
Even the fact that there’s all this supposedly ‘transgressive’ experimentation going on, but the its all totally heterosexual barring two girls kissing shown at the edge of the show. Again, it a rather old-fashioned view, especially true for a generation where experimenting with people of the same sex is more accepted and prevalent than ever before. Bang Bang may seem a progressive take on teen sexuality to some, but it’s not really.
Overall Verdict: It may seem daring to some to take on teens and sex in this way, but its simplistic, moralistic tone doesn’t actually serve the characters or indeed the reality of life for young people all that well.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac