Theo And Hugo
"Nambot's previous feature experience shows in the greater confidence of his delivery, but natural chemistry between him and Couët is at the core of film's success."

Some relationships start with a whimper, some with a bang. For Theo (Geoffrey Couët) and Hugo (François Nambot) the latter is literal; they meet in a sex club, under the ground, under the red lights. Both are twentysomething, in good shape, bound to get attention, but there's something about Hugo that Theo can't take his eyes off. Everybody else fades into the shadows. It's obvious to all that these two only have eyes for each other, and the 20 minutes of fucking that follow are shot in a way that suggests something almost divine, flesh moving against flesh with a delicacy, an alert sensuality quite different from what's happening around them. So they go upstairs, they get their coats, they leave together... and then they realise that Theo hasn't used a condom, and Hugo is HIV positive, and everything stops.

It's a situation that could easily drive people apart. Has Theo been stupidly irresponsible? Should Hugo have declared his status, and if so, how? At any rate, as they're both practically minded, the immediate course of action is clear. Hugo is in treatment and has a negligible viral load, so the chances of Hugo becoming infected are low. Getting to hospital and starting an immediate course of treatment can reduce his risk still further. Supporting each other through this, learning a little about one another's lives along the way, the two commence a night in Paris that will see them explore both the city and themselves, testing their courage, weighing up their ambitions, determining whether or not there is room for the unexpected something that might be happening between them.

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Directed with grace and sensitivity by the established team of Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, this is a beautiful portrait of those hours after a pick-up when the world is full of possibility and everything hangs in the balance. Intermittently, the time flashes up on the screen (the film's original title was Paris 5:59) and as we travel through this nighttime world we know that dawn will soon come to steal it away. The empty streets around Anvers and the Canal Saint Martin will fill up with people. The tide of daily life will resume. If magic is to happen, it has only thee few hours to take effect.

It's difficult to maintain such intensity over an hour and a half and there are moments when the film stumbles. Assorted encounters with strangers each contributed something to the young men's awareness of how their story fits into a greater one, but the social commentary they introduce sometimes disrupts the flow and the scripts is stronger when it's subtler. Nambot's previous feature experience shows in the greater confidence of his delivery, but natural chemistry between him and Couët is at the core of film's success, making us believe in these moments.

There are still too few films out there willing to bring sex and love together with this kind of honesty. Theo And Hugo is a rare treat.

Reviewed on: 04 Dec 2016
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After a brief encounter in a Paris sex club, two men fall abruptly and unexpectedly in love.

Director: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau

Writer: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau

Starring: François Nambot, Geoffrey Couet

Year: 2016

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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