Collections of short films have become pretty popular, particularly when it comes to LGBT cinema. Peccadillo Pictures have their Boys on Film series, which has released 17 volumes so far, and TLA Releasing have been dipping their toes in releasing shorts too with the excellent Global Warming back in 2015. To kick off 2018 TLA have released French Kisses, a collection of French shorts all with very different styles and themes.
The collection opens with Apollo and it’s definitely one of the most bonkers moments included here. The short finds a young man feeling very self-conscious about the size of his package, worrying that everyone else he sees is bigger than him. His insecurities start while he’s at a swimming pool, resulting in him embarrassing himself by trying stuff his pants with a sock, and he starts seeing bananas where penises should be. The final moments really take a turn for the bizarre but the short catches your attention.
After that things are pretty uneven. French Kisses certainly has its moments though and Herculaneum is the strongest short included here. Two men meet for a hook-up and after having sex one of them finds out the other has a boyfriend. That doesn’t deter them from meeting up again and once their lust stops over-powering them, the men actually start to get to know one another. It’s a comment on the the nature of dating between gay men, which inevitably seems to start with sex.
Another highlight is Ruptures, which is a documentary about couples breaking up. At the centre of it is film-maker Gabriel who has dated many of the participants. He interviews old flame Andre, which quickly escalates into something different than he expected and Gabriel finds himself in front of the camera revealing his real reasons for ending his relationship with Andre.
At the other end of the spectrum is the odd and rather pointless The Body of Angels. It seems to be trying to mix LGBT cinema and science fiction but it doesn’t do it in an interesting or even understandable way. A series of young men appear to be affected by something within them but nothing is ever really explained and it’s all a bit dull, not to mention over long.
Sitting in the middle of the pack are Juliet Electrique and En Retour. Both films are interesting with the former having great direction and camera work, and the latter twisting your expectation on its head. Neither are wholly successful but there’s plenty to admire about the way the film-makers have put them together.
French Kisses, like so many short collections, is a little all over the place. These six films don’t sit together all that well and there is a definite gulf in quality between them. That said each one offers up an interesting idea and while the execution may fail some of them, they are all worthy of a watch. When the shorts are great though, they really hit the mark.
Cast: Various Director: Various Writer: Various Certificate: 15 Duration: 114 mins Released by: TLA Releasing Release date: 8th January 2018