meet the stars of modern lgbt love story, théo and hugo
The film's stars Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau talk through its explicit sex and HIV storyline.
Théo and Hugo may begins with an 18-minute gay orgy, but the real action in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's film takes place on the streets of Paris, once everyone's got their clothes back on.
After hooking up in a sea of bodies in a basement club, Théo (Geoffrey Couët) and Hugo (François Nambot) find their connection lasts beyond climax. They wander out into the Parisian night together and begin to talk, walk and cycle into the early hours. But their romance takes an abrupt turn towards the emergency room when it transpires they have had unprotected sex.
Veteran French directors Ducastel and Martineau - real life partners - are well versed in safe sex positive messaging in their cinema and Théo and Hugo (called Paris, 05:59 in France due to the real time narrative) gets down to the nitty gritty of HIV infection prevention while managing to sustain its contemporary romance on the streets of Paris. We talked to the two lead actors about tackling modern hook ups, safe sex and that lengthy opening sex scene.
How did you feel about the opening scene of the film when you first read the script?
Geoffrey: At first I thought it was a really intense and challenging scene and I focused on the feelings, the looks, not to be scared of big words like "fellatio" "orgasm" "nudity". So that it became an extremely romantic scene that I would love to act.
What was the greatest challenge in filming this scene?
Francois: Honestly, the harder things to shoot were the shots in which we had to be hard, actually. It can be simple in real life, in your bedroom with your lover, but on a set with a whole crew around you, it is very different. But it is a matter of concentration. And after two days of shooting that particular scene - we had four days to do it - the nudity was not a problem anymore.
G: It was a real marathon. We could have gone to the Olympics for this scene!
Why do you think it is significant or important that the film begins with the sex scene?
G: The film opens with a climax of body, music, rhythm, that makes you accept the quieter ballad that will follow. After an opening like this, it's okay if those two boys just walk without talking for a minute.
F: If they don't have sex together, there is no film! Plus, once it has been shown, you can focus on the love story going on. And I know the directors wanted the scene to be very long, so that the viewers can experience it almost physically, and take a deep breath when the two characters go out of the club.
Did you have any time to get to know each other before filming?
G: The month before the shooting we read the script with Jacques and Olivier, but then just the two of us. François and I built a trustfing and unique relationship.
The directors are known for the sex positive themes in their films. How do you think this manifests itself in Théo and Hugo?
F: AIDs is still a very important concern nowadays, but less treated in films than before. Two young characters, living in a modern and actual world, being concerned by this problem is a very good way to remind people that AIDs is still around. Plus, the film can inform young people who wouldn't know how to get a quick treatment.
The consultation at the clinic with the doctor was improvised. Was there a reason for this?
G: To make it natural. Claire Deschamps, who plays the medic, is a real doctor, so we just had to follow the protocol. It surprised us and created the special atmosphere of this scene. I felt I was not acting anymore but living it for real.
F: No dialogue was written, only the structure of what was supposed to happen. The doctor really led the scene. Geoffrey and I only reacted to what she was telling us. We were very moved because, suddenly, it was no longer Théo and Hugo but Geoffrey and François facing the problems of AIDs.
The film is a modern romance. Where would you suggest for a romantic late night walk in Paris?
G: I would suggest along Les Quais, near Invalides, a long discussion over a bottle of champagne on the floor in front of the centre Pompidou. And last but not least, a first kiss at the little square in front of Edouard VII's theatre. Sounds good, no?
Théo and Hugo is in cinemas from Friday 9th September.
Text Colin Crummy