Paris 05:59: Theo + Hugo
(Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, 2016)Paris 05:59
is the film of the year so far, and I can only hope that it finds U.S. distribution. Dumb American mores will make that difficult, as this is truly adult filmmaking, where real sex genuinely serves the story being told. To wit, the film open with one of the best meet-cutes ever. It's 4:27am, and we follow a guy down into a gay sex club in the middle of Paris. It's darkly lit, but there are plenty of bodies writhing in club's red glow, and they're not hiding anything. As the film immerses us in this orgy, the guy we followed in develops with an infatuation with another of the club's patrons. But the object of his gaze is otherwise engaged, so he finds someone else to play with on the other side of the central table. His positioning is strategic; he's directly in the other guy's eyeline as their both leaning over the table, pounding into the strangers beneath them. Their eyes lock, and eventually they lean far enough in to kiss .... and that's how Vincent meets Theo.
Eighteen minutes later, after we've watched them passionately get intimate with each other in the middle of the club, they emerge to the street together, and the film stays in real time, following them together through the Parisian night. And the quiet city at night, bathed in the glow of streetlamps and traffic lights, is amazingly beautiful. Romance, it seems, can't help but bloom ... but it's not as simple as that. There's a darkness here, too.
The French title of this film is Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau
, a callback to Celine and Julie Go Boating
. There are really nice references to classic French cinema (I paricularly liked the emphasis on the first
metro; that struck me as a brilliant inversion, but I might be reading too much into it). Those little details offer hints of how much Duscatel and Martineau have grown as directors since The Adventures of Felix
. It has me a bit in awe. They've created something very special here, something engaging and dark and romantic and valuable.Grade: