Let DOWN IN PARIS
The beginning of Antony Hickling's biographical film DOWN IN PARIS - a piece in which he is the star, director, and is credited with the screenplay - was gripping for me. A filmmaker freezes up after 15 takes of a short scene with an actress on the phone. She is heartbroken - what am I doing wrong? The crew is confused - how can we make this process better? And the director has crashed into an artistic dark hole and walks off the set.
With voices raising, doors slamming, and reputations - and the production - on the line. Robert, the fictional character played by Hickling, is adrift in sorrow. We soon learn his relationship has tanked, his father has died, and he is rapidly sunsetting into an emotional crisis.
His long night's journey into day is initially thrilling, then confusing, and then makes you wonder how long this night can be? We watch as he attempts to talk with his boss. We follow him to his fortune-teller, who predicts a handsome man is nigh. He follows some nuns into a beautiful church that for some reason is open all night, where he meets a handsome man and perhaps is part of a miracle. Later we meet a kindly hooker, amd see again a tourist who wanted to hook up with a real man - and did.
At this point, it is hard to know what is a fever dream or what is just filler. A trip to the ex-lover's apartment is followed by a time well spent in a bathhouse where another handsome man makes an appearance. But it is an unhandsome, older man and his partner who together release the long bottled-up joy in Robert.
And that leads us to a magical and satisfying end with all sorts of hopeful possibilities. DOWN IN PARIS has won multiple awards, but I stopped believing somewhere during the very arty night.