Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo Screen 6 articles

Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo

2016

Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo Poster
  • Filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau cleverly capture the codes and customs that guide even extreme Dionysian milieus — the lube and condom dispensers, the coat/clothing check and settling of drink tabs that follow the group rutting — with an attention to detail that keeps viewers engaged when the bland, acharismatic central couple, who cycle, walk, talk, kiss, and fight in a pre-dawn City of Light, fail to.

  • Light on plot yet heavy on chemistry, “Paris 05:59” is at times a little precious. But the two leads are so believably besotted that their occasional immaturity doesn’t rankle. (One of the film’s loveliest tics is to keep catching Théo’s watching Hugo with a small, secretive smile, as if he couldn’t believe his luck.)

  • The film conjures a world and a moment in time, and it does so with an understated skill throughout. Enormous credit, though, must also go to the casting and performances of the two actors. Couet and Nambot are slender, nice- but not extraordinary-looking twentysomethings who are very believable in their roles, but most of all have a chemistry that makes you wonder how much of their romantic attraction is acting.

  • The film is kept buoyant by the giddy attraction between the leads, but co-directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau are also artful economizers, folding a Syrian immigrant, a lonely old woman, and tales of gay life in the country and the city into what’s fundamentally a sweet, conventional romance (a relationship that begins with sex and involves a health scare cannot be shocking to college-educated Americans).

  • Beginning with the intimacy of sex, rather than proceeding towards it, is Ducastel and Martineau’s greatest gamble... And lest the film be accused of echoing and reclaiming a sexually liberated pre-AIDS sensibility and ignoring the very real side effects of Hugo and Theo’s freewheeling encounter, Paris 05:59 turns its post-coital narrative into an extended dialogue about safe sex, at once demystifying and strengthening the love-at-first-sight connection between the two beautiful young men.

  • Very few films accept the contradicting velocities of gay desire, and present them in such blunt yet graceful fashion, the way Paris 05:59 does. Ducastel and Martineau understand the propensity for the sheer revolutions that secluded sex rooms seem to foster, as well as the brevity of gay bliss—so easily dismantled by a world that conspires against its longevity through disease, invisibility, and the over-abundance of muscled bodies happy to perform.

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