Donne-moi la Main, the first feature-length movie by Pascal-Alex Vincent, stars a pair of identical twin brothers, Alexandre and Victor Carril, who live in Paris’s Marais. On the evening I saw it, at the MK2 Beaubourg cinema, just on the edge of the Marais, a large group of the actors’ friends and the twins themselves came along, so there was a celebratory atmosphere, culminating in a large round of applause as the pair disarmingly rushed out of the cinema at the end of the film.
The story, such as it is, revolves around a journey made through the South of France and Spain by two brothers, Antoine and Quentin, as they attempt to attend the funeral of a mother they never knew. The director and screenwriter show no interest at all in the background story of the young men, adding an enigmatic air to the proceedings and focusing attention on the dysfunctional relationship between the twins, leaving the movie without any real narrative depth.
The director’s debt to Japanese manga is acknowledged at the very beginning of the film with an opening animated sequence, and it is perhaps in that light that we should view the lack of sustained characterization. The various people the brothers meet on their journey serve as ciphers for the complex bond they share, and we are not supposed to reflect too deeply about them.
Each twin has a short-lived sexual encounter, one with a woman, one with a man, provoking a jealous response from the other twin, but it is in keeping with the tone of the film that these sexual partners are discarded from the narrative almost as soon as they appear.
The beautiful rural settings of much of the film and the way the camera lingers lovingly, even longingly, on the faces and bodies of the two actors give the action a memorably poetic beauty.
Alexandre and Victor Carril have enough presence to keep our attention, but the staginess of the acting of some of the secondary performers and the absence of narrative interest make Donne-moi la Main only partially successful.