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Based on queer writer Phillippe Basson’s gay novel (whose English translation was written by Molly Ringwald), director/screenwriter Olivier Peyon’s “Lie With Me” (Cinephobia) plays out like an adaptation, and that’s intended as a compliment.

The movie, about a gay novelist returning to his hometown in the Cognac region of France, has a literary sensibility that is very effective.

Stéphane (Guillaume de Tonquédec), a French writer living in Paris, is the author of popular novels that have earned him a devoted following over the years. One of them is Eleanor (Laurence Pierre), the wife of Mr. Dejean (Pierre-Alain Chapuis), the owner of the cognac distillery in the town where Stéphane was born and raised. Stéphane, who hasn’t been back to the small town in 35 years, has been invited to be the guest speaker for a special anniversary event at the cognac cellars. As his wrangler Gaëlle (Guilaine Londez) tells him, they usually have visual artists, and made an exception for him.

While there, Stéphane meets Lucas (hot Victor Belmondo, grandson of the late actor Jean-Paul Belmondo) who works in Los Angeles with the American distributors of the distillery’s products. Lucas is supervising the group of American visitors who are also present for the special anniversary celebration. Stéphane recognizes Lucas’ surname as being the same as one of his schoolmates. As it turns out, Lucas is, in fact, the son of Thomas (Julien De Saint Jean), a popular classmate of Stéphane’s with whom he had a clandestine sexual relationship during their last year of school.

The interwoven school segments, seen in flashbacks, are set in 1984, at a time when being a gay high school student was very dangerous. The younger Stéphane (Jérémy Gillet) is known to be gay, while Thomas, who is working the bisexual angle, is obviously more gay on the spectrum, especially when it comes to his feelings for and attraction to Stéphane. Nevertheless, Thomas insists their relationship remains a secret. As the only child of farmers, not only is it important to maintain appearances, but he knows that he will never leave the town. Whereas Stéphane, who is an excellent student, has the potential to leave and make something of himself, away from the place where he feels like an outsider.

Like a great novel, “Lie With Me” is striated with twists and turns, surprises you never see coming. Even the title is multi-layered. Not only does it refer to the way the teens lie with each other during and after sex, but also to the way that they must lie to others to keep their relationship between them. Additionally, it applies to young Stéphane’s mother, who discouraged his imagination and storytelling by saying, “Stop with your lies.” In French (and English) with English subtitles.

Rating: A-

“Lie With Me” screens as part of the OUTshine Film Festival on April 29 at 9:15 p.m. at the Silverspot Cinemas in downtown Miami. Visit: OUTshine Film Festival - Lie With Me (Arrete Avec Tes Mensonges). Available for streaming May 1 – 5.

Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.