spinning for pleasure
by Douglas Messerli
Germain Choffart (screenwriter and director) Dare / 2016 [7 minutes]
In yet another example of the changing attitudes about young LGBTQ individuals regarding “coming out,” Germain Choffart’s pleasant but rather empty 2016 short Dare lets nature take its amiable course in the first date for the sexually unaware Leo (Germain Choffert) and the openly gay Hugo (Romain Becker).
Ever since Madonna’s “Truth and Dare” games—particularly the ancient favorite “spin-the-bottle”—have been used time and again in LGBTQ films as a way to get young sexually indeterminate boys to come out of the closet by jumping into the arms of a fellow high school peer. Over a period of a month or two I’ve observed the device applied to at least three films in order the help speed love along: Dutch director Niels Bourgonje’s Turn It Around (2017), Olivier Lallart’s Fag (2019), and now in Choffert’s Dare, where friend Sophie (Caitlin Wells) gets her wish to hook up Hugo with Leo, the latter of whom agrees to go on his first male-male date. If there is a slight moment of hesitation on Leo’s part, he quickly takes to the idea and agrees with a simple smile and statement, “Okay.”
Hugo, as it puts it, “has it in hand,” having already packed a picnic lunch with a French wine that turns out to be one of Leo’s favorites, a good baguette, grapes, cheese, and cherry tomatoes. But they hardly get a moment to eat before they are shoved into a Hallmark card, as they run through the park to predictably wind up before a small pool into which they skip rocks endlessly as if it were the most enjoyable activity possible. By day’s end they realize they have both had a most enjoyable time, as suddenly, turning to say goodbye Hugo, plants a kiss on Leo’s lips.
If Leo pulls back, it is perhaps only to catch his breath and flash his lovely smile again, since he immediately returns the kisses as the two stand before what looks to be a frat house or dormitory madly making out for all to witness before the director/lover finally determines to run the credits.
Who might have guessed “coming out” and finding your true love was all so very easy, needing only an old wine bottle and a clever friend to allow everyone live happily ever after. If I like the charming ease with which these good-looking boys discover one another, I’m frankly bored after the first kiss. And, sorry, you can categorize me as an old cynic, but I question even the significance of this empty fantasy. Is it truly necessary to expend so much talent, time, and money arranging for the opportunity to show good-looking gay boys getting it on? If it’s now become such a natural phenomenon why even bother to show it? Might anyone in their right mind truly be entertained by watching a young and man and his girlfriend enjoy a picnic lunch, briefly run across a field, and engaging in a long goodnight smooch? Only, I might guess, if that were not the common run of things would anyone find such events of any interest.
Whatever you think of this 7 minute clip, it has nothing at all to do with daring.
Los Angeles, June 3, 2021
Reprinted from My Queer Cinema blog and My World Cinema (June 2021).