SAVAGE STATE (2019) Reviews and overview of French Western

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Savage State is a 2019 Western film about a French family desperately trekking across the country to escape the Civil War.

Written and directed by French filmmaker David Perrault (Heroes Died Tonight). Produced by Sylvain Corbeil and Farès Ladjimi.

The French-Belgian-Canadian production stars Alice Isaaz, Kevin Janssens, Déborah François and Bruno Todeschini.


When the American Civil War breaks out, a family of French settlers abandon their Missouri home to flee and go back to Paris. Edmond (Bruno Todeschini), the patriarch, is accompanied by his wife Madeleine (Constance Dollé), their maid Layla and their three daughters: Esther, Justine and Abigaëlle.

Esther, the youngest, is irresistibly attracted to Victor, a former mercenary who’s escorting them. This relationship soon acts as a poison within the group of travellers, especially when Victor’s past is catching up with him…


Savage State is such a well-crafted, female-driven piece of western grandeur, something that we haven’t had since Netflix’s Godless. The film’s final standoff is reminiscent of that in the series as the women assemble to protect themselves against men in a blaze of fury and gunsmoke. The film is stirring and stylish in all its feminine splendor.” Daily Dead

” …a grounded, but incredibly unique little movie that shows that genres and film conventions can transcend borders, and create hybrid films that we never thought were possible before […] With a savage bite and daring narrative choices, it becomes something that will stay with me for a long time.” Elements of Madness

Savage State is the story of a family that flees the trappings of their gentile southern lifestyle when threatened by the new rules and laws enacted by the Union conquerors. There are elements of jealousy, violence, and suffering on full display that leaves no character untouched. Many of the central players appear one way at the outset, grow during the journey then evolve again later in the story.” Flick Hunter

“As a Western, Savage State is an OK enough film, though I have to admit that the story of the film was not always the easiest for me to follow. However, the film still offers an interesting alternative point of view of America in the 19th century.” Sean Kelly on Movies

“Perrault’s movie is far greater as a piece of visual storytelling than it is as an emotional work. While many of the characters are interesting, there’s an emotional distance we feel to this story as a whole that doesn’t really make it come alive in the way we hope […] All that being said, Savage State is a movie well worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of the genre it is finding new ideas in.” Sonic Cinema

Savage State is one of those films that doesn’t have anything, in particular, holding it back, no single flaw that cripples the film as a whole. Rather, it’s several smaller flaws and a certain missing something that keeps the film from being much more than simply fine.” Tilt


Savage State premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2020. Samuel Goldwyn will release Savage State on VOD in the USA on January 29th 2021.

Cast and characters:

Alice Isaaz … Esther
Kevin Janssens … Victor
Déborah François … Justine
Bruno Todeschini … Edmond
Constance Dollé … Madeleine
Armelle Abibou … Layla
Maryne Bertieaux … Abigaëlle
Kate Moran … Bettie
Pierre-Yves Cardinal … Samuel
Jerry Di Giacomo … Henry
Grégoire Colin … Monsieur de Lisle
Lee Delong … Miss Davis
Vincent Grass … Grand Chef
Mathieu Perotto … Jeune soldat
James Gerard … Intendant hôtel

Original title:

L’état Sauvage

Technical details:

118 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1


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