Screen Savor: Say Oui to “Paris 05:59”

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François Nambot (Hugo) and Geoffrey Couët (Théo) in Paris 05:59 (Europa/Epicentre)

“Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo” (Europa/Epicentre), co-written and co-directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau is a timely and sensitive reminder of the current state of things in the world of gay sex. The lengthy, erotically-charged and sexually graphic opening sequence takes place in a sex club where the red-lit lower level is swarming with writhing naked men engaging in various sex acts.

Curly-haired Théo (Geoffrey Couët) can’t take his eyes off of hot Hugo (François Nambot) and when they finally hook-up, awhirl in the heat of the moment, they engage in unsafe behavior. Afterward, upstairs, they retrieve their clothes, get dressed and leave the club together. It’s 4:47 a.m.

Riding bikes through the city, they talk about the connection they felt and how it was different. On the way to Hugo’s apartment, Théo admits it was his first time at a sex club. Further discussion reveals that they didn’t use a condom and that Hugo is HIV+. Hugo calls the AIDS hotline and is directed to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

They exchange phone numbers. Théo insists on going to the hospital alone. Hugo texts him relentlessly.  It is 5:02 a.m. Théo registers at the hospital. Hugo arrives and tells Théo he’s in treatment and that his viral load is undetectable. Hugo stays with Théo and he begins the treatment regimen because he didn’t want him to be alone, as he was, when he got his test results.

At 5:25 a.m., after leaving the hospital, Théo and Hugo get to know each other even more intimately than they did before, filling in the pieces of their lives for each other. You can watch them slowly becoming involved with the other in a way that is reminiscent of Andrew Haigh’s “Weekend.” Romantic and revelatory, “Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo” is strongly recommended, scoring an A-. It’s run in French with English subtitles.


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