The nameless hero of this raw, fascinating walk on the wild side is a scruffily beautiful 22-year-old gay street hustler in Strasbourg, whose tough exterior is belied by his romantic neediness: he’s hopelessly in love with his “straight” fellow rent boy.
We first see the protagonist of Wild as he is undergoing a medical examination that suddenly turns sexual: The doctor, as it turns out, is the role-playing client of the “patient,” a 22-year-old gay hustler (the extraordinary Félix Maritaud) whose livelihood on the streets is the subject of this raw, fascinating character study. The nameless hero projects a tough, scruffy sexuality that’s belied by his emotional nakedness and romantic heart: He gives away more of himself than perhaps he should. He’s in love with his tough fellow rent boy Ahd, who considers himself straight and sneers at him for kissing a john: “It’s like you enjoy being a whore.” The sex in Wild is graphic but never exploitative; the encounters range from the painfully degrading to the tender. Never judgmental, but with a compassionate objectivity, first-time director Camille Vidal-Naquet makes us care deeply about this complex hustler, a boy who’d rather be lost than found.