Film Review: Theo and Hugo

Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau

Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau (original title)
18 | 1h 37min | Drama, Romance | 9 September 2016 (UK)

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau launch their new film – Theo and Hugo – with an intense, explicit sex scene set in an underground gay bay in Paris. Music throbs, purple neon light bathes all, as a mass of bodies thrive in a wild orgy. Given the low lighting, and the way the forest of limbs are entangled, it is hard to make out where one man begins and ends. But over time, two figures emerge clearly to us – and each other- and they are Theo and Hugo, two guys out looking for a one-night hit of no-strings sex.

This in-your-face opening sequence kicks the film into high gear immediately, leaving the rest of the narrative with a residual buzz. This helps get us into the mindset of both Theo and Hugo, as they clearly remain struck by the intensity of their encounter (which led spontaneously to some steamy, full-on unprotected sex) even after they both leave the club together. Its 4am and neither planned to leave with anyone, but their overwhelming desire has already started to create an unexpected intimacy. Leaving the club, they start to drift down the deserted streets of nocturnal Paris, neither quite willing to call it a night even when Hugo’s realisation that the sex was unprotected takes them into a emotionally fraught left-turn into a clinic for emergency anti-viral treatment.

The resulting walk-and-talk study of developing love and intimacy should please fans of the films of Richard Linklater. Stars give open and naturalistic performances, both totally believable as a pair of young men gently exploring what this unexpected connection between them means, beyond their obvious physical attraction. Paris by night is lensed beautifully too, with each streetlight given its own gorgeous halo. The film is rich in the incidental details of Parisian night life, both gay and otherwise, from the complimentary features of a modern gay sex club to the hospital’s emergency HIV treatment, through to the local Syrian delis near the Seine than stays open all night. A highly-relatable story of 21st Century love.

Film Review: Theo and Hugo
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