First one to laugh is dead.
Youthful thoughts of immortality have a way of getting children into trouble as well as teaching them lessons able to scar them for life. For Tyler (Félix Grenier) and Benjamin (Alexandre Perreault) it’s a seemingly innocent game of one-upmanship wherein an indefinable state of superiority earns each a point on their way to a winning total of six. So if one feigns an injury and the other is gullible (read compassionate) enough to help, the trickster adds to his total. If one is in the process of causing injury and the other begs for it to stop—that’s another tally in the column for the perpetrator. The game is pretty much a construct that allows them to test the other’s boundaries and prove their mettle by sowing mistrust.
Writer/director Jeremy Comte isn’t trying to create a sense of animosity in this depiction, though. The two boys in Fauve genuinely hold a kinship for one another within their ill-advised route towards fun. Just because they find their empathy numbed in the context of this voluntary struggle for dominance doesn’t mean there aren’t also moments when helping each other becomes a second-nature act. These are “boys being boys” as they run around an environment blocked off from the public for good reason. The beauty of this man-made surface mine attracts them with its mountains of sand and expanse for adventure, the danger it holds unfathomable for two adolescents unworried about consequences far-removed from supervision. So there’s zero safety net once they inevitably take their fateful misstep.
You have to wonder where Comte is going with this drama after tragedy arrives because it would be easy to go one of two obvious directions: have it all be another “joke” or make us witness the devastating fallout upon returning home. Because his story is short, however, he doesn’t have to copout or expand further than the microcosm of youth he’s supplied. In this way Comte chooses to stay in the isolation of the boys’ world, amplifying its futility instead of introducing external forces for punishment and/or consoling. He started with Tyler and Benjamin running wild with no one but each other to prop up or tear themselves down and remains with them to the end because the most powerful form of sorrow always rises from within.