Review: French drama ‘Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo’ explores love in the wee, small hours

“Paris, 05:59: Théo & Hugo” unfolds in intervals — 4:27, 4:47, 5:02, 5:25, 5:41 — a real-time exploration of sex and relationships during the quiet, early morning hours on the streets of Paris. Théo (Geoffrey Couët) and Hugo (François Nambot) meet at a sex club, during a group sex encounter that morphs into an intimate connection between these two strangers.

During some post-coital chit chat, there’s a development that sends the two men to the nearest hospital in a panic, seeking treatment for exposure to HIV. It’s a dramatic event that brings the two of them even closer together, and revealing even more intimate personal details as they navigate the deserted, twinkling city streets.

“Paris 05:59” is a remarkably empathetic, big-hearted and love-struck film, not only for the palpable connection between the two leading characters but also in their small interactions with those they encounter along the way — a Syrian kebab man, an older hotel chambermaid, a kind and beautiful nurse.

“Desire is stupid,” says Hugo, “but it’s good that I want you like I do.” Therein lies the love story between the cherubic, elfin, reserved Théo, and the uninhibited, emotional and welcoming Hugo. Filmmaking duo Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau have crafted a film that articulates the ability for sex to produce just a little bit more love in the world, for a moment or an eternity.


‘Paris, 05:59: Théo & Hugo’


Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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