A touching, restrained gay love story from France, Lie With Me spans decades and discusses fate and belonging with insight and empathy. Guillaume de Tonguédec plays Stephane Belcourt, an author returning to his hometown of Cognac after 35 years away. He is the guest of honour at an event to promote a distillery there, brought along at the behest of Victor Belmondo’s Lucas Adrieu.
Interspersed with this present-day narrative is another set in the past, as bookish 17-year-old Stephane – played by Jérémy Gillet – falls for a motorbike-riding apparent bad boy Thomas (Julien De Saint Jean). They have a passionate love affair, but Thomas is determined to keep it secret, his family and friends would never understand the love that blossoms between him and the young Stephane.
The ramifications of this decision are felt in the present day as the elder Stephane is brought face to face with Lucas, his first love’s son, and discovers that Thomas has died, leaving many questions for his offspring. A gradual unravelling of the relationships untangles in both timeframes, told with restraint and patience by director Peyon.
Based on Philippe Besson’s book, this is a small yet universal film, well acted by its central quartet, although comedic support is given by Guilane Londez’s wise, bubbly tour organiser. Recollection, memory and nostalgia are addressed, as is the weight of past decisions – roads untravelled coming to an emotional climax with the reading of a letter and a heartfelt speech delivered by Stephane to the cognac sippers. Deceptively dense despite its apparently slight story, this is an engaging, heartfelt drama that moves, leaving wisdom in its wake.
Dir: Olivier Peyon (15, 98 mins)
Lie With Me is released in cinemas from Fri 18 Aug
words KEIRON SELF