During the first 15 minutes of this film you may wonder what's left to explore, but it only gets better from there.
Theo and Hugo is a film that starts out with an explicit orgy sex scene, then slowly works its way through the relationship parts of two men falling in love in the course of an early morning adventure through the nighttime streets of Paris.
The first quarter hour is pornographic; you have been warned. It is the first time I have ever seen lead actors leave nothing to the imagination in a cinematic film.
Interestingly the nudity is the least important part of this wonderful romantic drama.
The lingering shots of erect genitalia and acts of fellatio may make you uncomfortable at first, but the remaining 82 minutes is an effective adult gay fairy tale. This real-time story takes place between the hours of 4:27 am and 5:59 am.
After their sexual interaction, both strangers follow each other out to the street and rent bicycles for the trip home, it is there that Theo (Geoffrey Couet) reveals something about their hookup which leaves Hugo (Francois Nambo) in a state of panic and quickly dialing the local hospital for an emergency visit.
This begins their evening of revelations, desires and fears of the future.
Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau have made a wonderful and provocative film here. The course of events is never boring and the French cityscape in the abandoned hours of the morning make this indie a beautiful work of art. City cobblestone rues are lit in muffled greens, whites and blues, giving the penumbra a haunting feel as though the city has been abandoned just for the sake of these two men trying to understand if they are actually falling in love.
I have said before that gay cinema is changing. No longer are men reduced to stereotypes who remove their tops and shake it for the box office, they are getting more mainstream and serious about their craft. The fact that the leads in this film take such a huge risk in the beginning makes it feel as though the director is getting all of that mystery out of the way so the audience can concentrate on more important things such as their personalities.
Theo and Hugo are attractive men, with the mystery of their body parts revealed, what’s next to discover in this 97 minute film?
There is plenty, and Couet and Nambot are a great pair. Their chemistry combines to create a powerful force made of sensibilities and midnight kismet.
This is not an arthouse film as you might be led to believe in the beginning it is a journey into depths of what gay men want, and what they are willing to do and say to get it.
Theo is the wide-eyed innocent who enters the world of sex parties for the first time like Alice through the looking glass. He’s not entirely shy, but extremely curious at the mass of writhing and thrusting backsides.
He is also somewhat of a recluse who lives in a small maid’s quarters filled with little light.
Hugo is the more outgoing type. He’s high energy, smart and quick on his feet.
After their casual sexual affair, things become more interesting as both are determined to figure out if the other is “the one.” Theo is a little bit more apprehensive and judgmental than Hugo, but through the course of the film they both achieve some important revelations.
For a film that audaciously begs for the audience to judge its tone as the opening credits roll, Theo and Hugo sends a clear message that there is much more to sex than physical pleasure.
If you are invested in your time at the theater as much as these characters are at finding love, thier journey and yours will be twice as fulfilling.
Theo and Hugo is playing at The 18th Annual San Diego Gay and Lesbian Film Festival present by FilmOut on Saturday, June 4, at 10 pm.
The Observatory - North Park is located at 2891 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Get tickets HERE.