Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ducastel & Martineau's PARIS 05:59 THEO & HUGO -- the year's best love story, already?


We're not even one month into the new year, but if a better love story than PARIS 05:59 THEO & HUGO comes along, then we're in for quite a romantic 2017. Of course, the viewer who ventures into this new film needs to be warned: Before you meet and discover exactly who our two lovers are and why you should in any way care about them and their story, you will have to endure a quarter-hour or more of an hardcore orgy taking place at a gay after-hours club in Paris.

OK. Now that we've lost that part of our audience, let's continue. Even some gays may find the opening orgy difficult or tiresome to sit through. My spouse was ready to quit the film early on, but, suspecting that a real movie -- with characters, plot and progression -- was on tap, I convinced him to last it out. I had no trouble lasting it out because I enjoy hardcore now and again, particularly when it appears in films that offer much more than merely sex. I also have loved the
earlier movies by filmmaking duo Olivier Ducastel (above) and Jacques Martineau (at left), which include The Adventures of Felix and Côte d'Azure, and this new one turns out to be their best by far. Imagine a romantic comedy/drama in which the lovers engage in sex (with others, as well as with each other) at the very beginning and then proceed toward a much different and more important kind of intimacy, and you may get some idea of what is so odd and so very special about this film. Gays will understand this sort of experience perhaps better than straight audiences, as initial sex is often the trigger for a relationship (lasting or otherwise).

Here, one fellow, Théo (the slight, curly-haired and very well hung Geoffrey Couët, below, left), who, in the midst of being hit on by various other men, notices someone who more than catches his eye, and so he slowly proceeds, via various sexual iterations with one fellow and then another, toward his goal. This turns out to be Hugo (the more conventionally gorgeous, sleek, muscular and also well-endowed François Nambot), below, right.

In a scene that strikes me as both hot and original as any meet-cute I've seen, the two end up finally facing each other, even as they are simultaneously fucking different men. Their gaze and then their mouths meet, and -- voilà! -- we have perhaps the most unusual love-at-first-sight scene in movie history. They have terrific sex, climax, gather up their belongings, and leave the club together. Then the movie really begins.

Who are these two, and what might they find together? We soon begin to learn. The dialog in the film is spectacularly good: natural, real, but genuinely interesting and exploratory. Both young men are worth getting to know, and you can feel their interest in each other -- which began as something visual/emotional/sexual -- begin to bloom into something richer and possibly more lasting.

Ducastel and Martineau, together with their hugely appealing and emotionally on-point actors, make every moment count, and the visuals of early-morning, pre-dawn Paris are marvelous indeed. We only spend a couple of hours with these two, as their relationship grows (the movie seems to be taking place in near-real time) but by the end, we are with them, body and soul.

Along the way, we/they visit a hospital, meet a very odd "patient" (above) as well as a most helpful AIDS worker (newcomer Elodie Adler, below). They encounter a young man from Syria (Georges Daaboul) who works in the kebab house at which they hope to buy a breakfast,

and finally, on the subway, they engage in the most lovely conversation with a femme de chambre who works in one of the city's nicer hotels (a wonderful Marief Guittier, below, center)  The young men's conversation bounces from subject to subject, and sometimes gets interestingly social/political, but never leaves its goal of bringing the two young men closer together.

By the finale, which has got to be among the most beautifully romantic/poetic/engulfing/hopeful scenes in gay movie history, they and you should be walking on that proverbial cloud. Seldom has a film begun so very differently from where it ends. Théo and Hugo -- both the movie and the guys -- are not to be missed. This one will take your breath away.

From Wolfe Releasing, the movie opens this Friday, January 27, in New York City (IFC Center), Los Angeles (Laemmle's Music Hall 3), San Francisco (The Roxie) and Fort Lauderdale (The Gateway Theatre). And as the film is from Wolfe, it's sure to appear on DVD/VOD eventually.

2 comments:

Michael O'Sullivan said...

Great review. Mine might interest you too:
http://osullivan60.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/paris-la-nuit-avec-theo-et-hugo.html
I also like their earlier JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Mike. I enjoyed the pair's JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY, too. Now that I have read your review, I will place LAND OF STORMS on my to-see list. And I am really happy that you so appreciated I KNEW HER WELL. That film is such a little-known/little-seen treasure!