Review: Dustin (2020)

courtesy of Uppsala Short Film Festival

Clubbing, after-partying and jealousy issues stand in the centre of Naila Guiguet’s short film Dustin that is already becoming a staple diet of many major film festivals. It was selected for Cannes’ Semain de la critique, earning a desired label, before hitting Toronto, San Sebastian and Bordeaux Independent Film Festival on its tour. It also played at Uppsala in the International Competition slot “Night and Day”, which is actually quite fitting having in mind the film’s content.

Four LGTB people – Dustin, Raya, Felix and Juan are clubbing, dancing and doing drugs. Dustin and Felix are a couple that experiences some troubles in their relationship. As the night goes by, drugs and primal instincts take over. For them, being kicked out from the club does not end the party, they take it with themselves to the apartment of a young woman named Lucie whom they met outside the club. A dealer named Erwan arrives, bringing more stuff and creating more of the stir by putting the relationships between the friends and couples to a challenge.

The plot might seem generic and run of the mill, while the specific milieu of the characters can be regarded as an attempt to spice things up. The fact is that couples, gay or straight, and groups of friends face similar challenges. However, the actors are given enough freedom to improvise, develop their characters and make them full of life, with Dustin Muchuvitz being a standout as the titular protagonist.

Aesthetically, Guiguet takes some clues from Gaspar Noé’s Climax in the early scenes focused on dancing and accompanied by loud techno music. The dance scenes are attractive and lively, usually filmed in longer, static shots, suggesting that the characters are “in the zone”, while their verbal exchanges and drug-doings profit from a dynamic editing (the editors Nathan Jacquard and Vincent Tricon do a great job here) of the hand-held shots lensed by Claire Mathon. In the second half, the climax is achieved by different means, the calmness of the visuals and the plainness of the interior accent the emotional turmoil within the characters, making Dustin elegant, albeit predictable festival-friendly short film.

courtesy of Square Eyes

Runtime: 20’ 08’’
Country: France
Language: French
Directed by: Naila Guiguet
Written by: Naila Guiguet
Cast: Dustin Muchuvitz, Félix Maritaud, Raya Martigny, Juan Corrales, Lucie Borletau, Erwan Fale
Cinematography by: Claire Mathon
Editing by: Nathan Jacquard, Vincent Tricon
Sound by: Hugo Rossi
Production design by: Pauline Thomas
Costume design by: Rachele Raoult
Produced by: Jean-Etienne Brat, Lou Chicoteau
Production companies: Alta Rocca Films, Canal +
Supported by: Centre national du cinéma et da l’image animée, Adami
Distributed by: Square Eyes
Sales by: New Europe Film Sales