“Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo” Sexy Then Sentimental

imageJacques Martindeau and Oliver Ducaste’s French language film Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo (B-) can’t quite sustain the energy of its kaleidoscopic first act as it depicts an unexpected chronicle of young love with unfathomable origins. The central gay couple meets in a sex club in a series of sequences that might make the Marquis de Sade blush. It’s like Ken Russell, Baz Luhrmann and Spike Lee’s styles fused in a bathhouse burlesque. What follows is a sentimental love story à la Before Sunrise as the young men wander the streets and canals of Paris. The story is sweet, but some of the dialogue is forced. The magic of the storybook romance is not altogether convincing, and some of the plot points about unsafe sex feel vaguely like a cinema length public service announcement. Geoffrey Couët is passable as the naïve first-timer in the nightclub but not altogether comfortable in his character. François Nambot is the more capable actor who is clearly working harder to make the romantic connection palpable. The real-time nature of the story slows it down to a crawl while chance encounters with denizens of the city don’t really enhance the narrative. The film works best when the young lovers are sprinting through the Parisian streets, blissful about the “morning after” and what dreams the future may hold.
Note: This film was screened at the Out on Film festival in Atlanta and is playing at additional festivals around the U.S.

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