The debut film by Benjamin Crotty, an American-born writer-director living in Paris, is one of the sexiest films about isolation to hit theaters this year. Filled with pent-up sexual frustration and sly wit, Fort Buchanan is an endlessly captivating film that never overstays its welcome. Taking a minimalist approach to the way he presents the world his characters inhabit, in this case a remote military post in the woods, Crotty’s film speak volumes without having to say much at all.
Shot in 16mm, and unfolding like a lurid soap opera, the narrative focuses on Roger (Andy Gillet) as he copes with life on the military post while his husband, Frank (David Baiot), is stationed in Djibouti. Living with their abusive adopted daughter, Roxy (Iliana Zabeth), Roger seeks solace in the company of the other military spouses. Determined to remain loyal to Frank, Roger ignores the various pressures that he, and another gay spouse (Guillaume Palin), receives from the women to participate in a little adult fun. While all are dedicated to their significant others, the women at the post still have urges that they deal with in many different ways, including “adult play dates.” They have even resolved that experimentation in all forms is good, which causes several of them to set their sites on Roxy, who at 18, is in the midst of her own sexual awakening.
Crotty playfully allows his characters to lounge around and wallow in the sexual tension. The sensuality is most palatable in the first half of the film. Similar to the way the women at the military post watch Roxy, like a predator does unexpected prey, Crotty’s lens gleefully lingers on the human form. The eyes, as if a silent narrator, convey emotions that are often left unsaid. Desire, frustration and lust are frequently captured with a simple glance.
Never feeling obligated to follow a conventional structure, Fort Buchanan freely roams across topics, mixing humor and depth along the way. Over the course of the film, Crotty touches on various themes, such as love, sex, fidelity, PTSD, and the shifting nature of war, in a way that never feels overbearing or out of place. The latter half of the film in particular does a wonderful job of incorporating Crotty’s sly, and at times slapstick humour, without diluting the seriousness of PTSD. A strong and confident debut, Fort Buchanan establishes Benjamin Crotty as a fresh new voice in cinema.