The advent of Grindr—a geosocial networking app used by homosexual men—has allowed its users to easily chat and meet up with others close by. This type of app, of course, isn’t exclusive to gay men, with a multitude of mobile apps enabling people to connect and interact with each other. It is this tech that serves as the impetus for Jérôme Reybaud’s feature film directorial debut, 4 Days in France.
The film opens with Pierre Thomas (Pascal Cervo), a gay man in his 30s, who takes one last look at his partner, Paul (Arthur Igual), before leaving him, driving off in a white Alfa Romeo. He has no particular destination in mind, instead using Grindr to guide where he goes, looking for hookups.
Those expecting the film to be full of sex scenes will be surprised—4 Days in France is less an erotic drama, and more a rumination on desire. There’s a hypnotic quality to the long takes of Pierre driving, allowing us the audience to take in the beautiful scenery of rural France and enter Pierre’s restless mindset.
In addition to the gay liaisons, Pierre encounters other people along his journey—an old teacher, a disgruntled butcher, a tourist on the border of France and Italy. One particularly memorable character is a woman who steals a bag from his unlocked car. Chasing after her and retrieving his belongings, Pierre nonetheless willingly gives the thief his possessions. The baffling moment serves as a jolt in the film’s long two-hour plus runtime, though its ludicrous outcome may leave viewers more frustrated than engaged.
Intercut with Pierre’s journey is Paul’s own voyage, using Grindr as a way of tracking the route his lover is taking. Following close, but always missing Pierre at every town, Paul’s drive around France is not quite as eventful, sometimes slowing the film’s pace.
Another point of contention is the motivations of the protagonists—why exactly Pierre leaves and why Paul follows isn’t exactly made clear. To be sure, this isn’t Reybaud’s primary focus (as they say, it is the journey – not the destination), but as the catalyst for the film’s events it is poorly served.
4 Days in France is thin on plot and is instead an artistic musing on yearning, love, and relationships. Those with patience may appreciate the visual poetry, though not everyone will be satisfied.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10
– ‘4 Days in France’ will be screening at this year’s 2018 Alliance Française French Film Festival.