Welcome to Queerly Digital, a regular column about LGBTQ cinema on DVD and Blu-ray. The column has been on hiatus for awhile due to some health issues on my end. Nothing life threatening, just some chronic issues which needed to be addressed. I'm now on the mend and the column is back--look for it once a month right here at SFGN.
Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo
Directors: Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau
Those who are ready to give up on the concept of true love or love at first sight might want to have a look at "Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo."
Most viewers won't be thinking of romance as the film begins. Theo and Hugo are seen at a sex club in Paris. Each are playing with other men--in the middle of an 18-minute hardcore orgy scene their eyes meet. As they engage in intercourse with others, Theo and Hugo smile at each other and kiss. Their deep and intense attraction to each other quickly becomes apparent.
They leave their respective sex partners and join each other for an intense fuck. The sequence may be hardcore but its not pornographic. It's a setup for the real-time story which follows as viewers join Theo and Hugo on a journey they seem destined for.
The men leave the club together. For the next ninety minutes, the camera follows them around a nighttime Paris which is bathed in a beautiful artificial light. As they ride their bicycles up and down the misty streets they realize that they had unsafe sex. Hugo (Francios Nambot) is HIV positive. That realization almost destroys their budding romance, but their desire to be together is so strong and intense that they meet with an emergency room physician together. Theo (Geoffrey Couet) is given medications which will most likely stop the spread of the virus into his body.
The men then walk around Paris. As daylight approaches they talk about love, get to know each other, and eat some food. They know they'll soon have to face the inevitable: each going to their own apartments. At one minute before 6 a.m. they accept the truth: neither of them is going anywhere. Ever. Or, as Hugo says, at least not for twenty years.
"Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo" is the reality of what it means to fall in love. Its not always easy. Its scary. And yet it remains irresistible. When you meet your soulmate there's no turning away.
The chemistry between actors Nambot and Couet is impressive, as are their acting chops. Neither of them are porn stars--Couet costarred in a production of the musical "Rent"--yet both were willing to perform the sex scenes which were required during the film's opening sequence. It's highly unlikely that we'll see American actors doing likewise anytime soon, but Europeans have traditionally been far less uncomfortable with sexuality than Americans.
Because of the opening orgy sequence there's always the danger that "Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo" will be labeled a porn film. We would ask people not to judge it as such. The film, set in real time, is about real life. Sex is part of life, but so is love. And sex is part of love. "Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo" is first and foremost a love story, perhaps the most realistic and intensely beautiful love story filmed in many years.
Wolfe Video offers "Paris: 05:59 Theo and Hugo" in French with clear, easy to read subtitles. The film is now available on Blu Ray and DVD.
Directors: Brian O'Donnell, Sasha King
Another tale of star-crossed gay love, "Akron" is set in middle America, specifically in the Ohio city of Akron. Newcomers Matthew Frias and Edmund Donovan star as Benny and Christopher, two college freshman who meet on the football field. They become a couple before the day is out. As with Theo and Hugo their love is intense and irresistible. But there's a catch.
Many years earlier Benny had a big brother who was hit by a car and killed. Christopher's mother was the driver of the car. When the truth comes out, its the two moms who must reconcile the past for the sake of their sons.
While not a great film, "Akron" is nonetheless a touching drama about forgiveness and redemption. The cast of unknowns offers surprisingly good work, considering their lack of experience. The screenplay, by co-director O'Donnell, also stands as a tribute to the changing world we live in. The homosexuality of Benny and Christopher is casually accepted by all who know them, as is the fact that they are a mixed-race couple. Benny is Latino, while Christopher is white. Their differing ethnicities are also treated as a non-issue.
The film is now available on DVD. It is also streaming at Amazon video.