He Loves Me: Film review by Jack Cline

This artful gay romance has almost no dialogue, consisting of gorgeous footage of two often naked men on isolated beaches. There’s a poetic first-person narration to offer some insight into what they’re thinking, but this is a film about mood and emotion. It’s beautifully shot, and played with unabashed physicality by the two men. It’s also both thoughtful and provocative.

The actors are real-life couple Hermes Pittakos and Sanuye Shoteka, and they play a couple at a crossroads in their relationship. One thinks the other is planning to break up with him as they head to Crete on a camping trip, swimming in the sea, lounging in the sun and shagging in the rocks. They are clearly very close both physically and emotionally, but there are issues gurgling between them that they need to address. So when they’re not together, they are watching each other from a distance, trying to work out how to relieve the strain they are feeling in their relationship.

Filmmaker Konstantinos Menelaou cleverly tells this story by exploring the feelings that surge between these men, rather than trying to over-analyse things with words or melodrama. The voiceover offers plenty of background, including details of how they met, their initial attraction and intense romance. It also explores issues anyone in a long-term relationship will recognise, as a deeper sense of love for each other makes it harder to simply indulge in their mutual lust, and how wanting each other isn’t the same thing as respecting each other. Indeed, their problems stem from a drug-fuelled night in which they set out to have sex with another man.

While the narration describes their awkward disagreements and loud fights, the imagery on-screen shows their physical ease with each other, swimming naked in clear water, playfully touching each other … and more. This is a clever contrast to the thoughts in their heads, digging into the nature of their relationship in an unusual way that echoes the nagging insecurities pretty much everyone can identify with: worrying when there’s no actual reason to do so. The introspective style of the film may make it feel a bit slow and mopey, but it’s beautiful to look at, with its raw depiction of masculine sexuality and its gentle insight into how men connect with each other.

He Loves Me is available now on DVD and VOD.

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