Written and Directed by
Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau
Premiered February 15, 2016 at the Berlin International Film Festival
Drama (romance / foreign)
Review by Stephen O. Murray
May 27, 2017.
I was mystified both by the compressed (between 4:27 and 5:59 AM) romance of Théo et Hugo and that it was the one who was HIV+ who was outraged at his partner’s failure to don a condom in the Marais sex club’s sex space in which they come together during the first 20 minutes of the movie (with isolation white spotlighting distinguishing them from the red-lit orgy around them; Théo had not focused on two earlier sexual partners, continuing to look around as they try to service him).
Though shot somewhat coyly, there is extended nudity and “real men having real sex.” There is no question that Théo goes down on Hugo’s cock for real, though I think the anal sex was simulated. I was surprised that both skinny (fairly flat-assed) youngish men seemed to be circumcised, though I may have been mistaken in regard to Théo [Geoffrey Couët]. Both he and Hugo [François Nambot] are hung. The somewhat swishy and more than somewhat skittish Couët has a very furry chest, so his legs must have been shaved. The contrast of hirsuteness of legs and chest are striking. Nambot’s top and bottom are consistent (I’d guess both his chest and his legs were shaved).
I was even more amazed that an emergency room could handle getting Théo on post-exposure prophylactic triple-drug combination in a very short time, with a very short time in the waiting room (where an older man tells each that cellphones cannot be used there, and asks Hugo if he come there often).
The original script set the film over the course of 28 days, but was later changed to occur during real-time in the course of 93 minutes in the early morning hours (shot over the span of fifteen days and nine nights with the sex club and hospital scenes supplemented by selecting bikes to rent, them and walking in northeastern Paris, including along a canal, taking the first Métro of the morning, visiting Theó’s apartment (where Hugo fondles and rhapsodizes about Théo’s penis again), listening a woman on the Métro and to a server originally from Syria in a kebab shop). Olivier Ducastel (and, presumably, his life-partner as well as co-director Jaques Martineau) wanted a happy ending, which I think would have been more credible if they had stuck to the plan of having the romance develop over 28 days (the length of Théo’s drug treatment).
The flaring tempers are amusing, as is the silent acceptance of being viewed as an established couple (not least in the hospital). What amused me most was the naked man (not either of the leads) stowing his cellphone in his sock before descending into the cauldron of mostly oral sex (I thought that fellatio was regarded as “American vice”; I thought that smoking was the “French vice,” though no one lights up herein.
As a road trip, I prefer Ducastel and Martineau’s Adventures of Felix, a voyage of self-discovery that takes longer than an hour and a half of Felix’s life, but I like the reduction of sprawl in contrast to their Born in ’68 (or Crustacés & coquillages / Côte d’Azur).
©2017, Stephen O. Murray