›› Beyond the Walls - Hors les murs ‹‹

a film by David Lambert.

2012 | 96 mins | Belgium - Canada - France.

a beautifully realistic study of affairs of the heart.

Dave says:

Wonderfully crafted, this assured debut feature from Belgian writer and director David Lambert vibrates with an emotional intensity that shakes the screen to its foundation. Then again, it that of any surprise when a drunken Paulo (Matila Malliarakis) finds friendly Albanian bartender Ilir (Guillaume Gouix) giving him a bed for the night. Only Paulo wants more than just shelter from Ilir, a fact that his girlfriend Anka (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) is all too aware of, duly kicking Paulo out of her apartment and thereafter into the arms, if not the life of Ilir. Forced together despite Ilir's initial hesitation, the two soon grow closer, along the way rejoicing in a sensual world that neither knows much about. Only will their love last the test of time?

For that is what hits you here, that of two men embracing their sexuality; that of same-sex love personified. Only and in as much as this work speaks of commitment of the "only yours - forever" kind, events naturally conspire to force the loving pair apart. The result is a film in two acts, with the first joyously bright as the spark of sexual attraction grows ever stronger, culminating in a passionate scene of man-on-man lip-service that is more of the "love at first bite" variety. Only look below the surface of Ilir's tough guy persona and you'll find Lambert hard at work, carefully reversing the narrative's "you're all I've got left" line, even if he's far too economical with the facts as to the events that take place in the less dynamic, if all the more poignant second act. Thankfully, between then and close-of-play, there's a series of lush touches to be savoured, including the vibrant on-screen chemistry between Gouix as the daddy of the piece and pretty boy Malliarakis of Romeo's Kiss credit.

The result is a beautifully realistic study of affairs of the heart. Sure, there's pain along the way, in this instance both emotional and in Paulo's case, physical. But that said, this accomplished feature in many ways reminds me of the Sébastien Lifshitz film Presque Rien, given this is but a hauntingly touching cinematic study of missed opportunities, personal regrets and of a future ever wondering - what could have been? Or rather what will be, given Malliarakis and Gouix were re-united on-screen for the acclaimed French supernatural series The Returned, alongside gay indie favourite Pierre Perrier of Cold Showers, Going South and American Translation fame, to name but three.

In short, this is gay love - laid bare; that of an intense story of the love between two men and one that's played refreshingly honest and direct, right down to a novel way of deciding who's on top for the night. Frankly, need more be said?

›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› revised: Tuesday, 20th April, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

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archive reference #2013049B - revised.
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