“DOWN IN PARIS”— A Spiritual Gay Journey


A Spiritual Gay Journey

Amos Lassen

Antony Hickling co-wrote, directed, and stars as a gay movie director named Richard in “Down In Paris”. Richard is trying to make a scene work when suddenly he has a creative and spiritual crisis. He runs from the set and spends the night wandering Paris, having adventures as he finds miracles and deals with emotional turmoil.

After an early at his favorite bar, where he meets Elizabeth (Nina Bakhshayesh), who is in a crisis of her own, he runs into his ex, Frédéric (Raphaël Bouvet), on the street. They begin shouting at each other and this sends Richard into an emotional state — including an emergency appointment with a psychic (Dominique Frot) and a stopover at a church, where an otherworldly young man (Claudius Pan) reads him the riot act.

As the night further unfolds, there are still more extremes and surprises are in store, including an reunion with an old friend (Manuel Blanc), an adventure at a sex club, and an encounter with an old man who might just be God (Jean-Christoph Bouvet).

Each meeting opens more layers and we see an artist in the midst of the creative process who is also a bereft lover, a grieving son, and an adult who’s still trying to reconnect with his inner child. Richard is led to a place of cleaning and renewal and we share his apprehensions and fears.

In the Covid era, the film takes on a new meaning of its own. For a director, a film studio or a film set is like a second home, and spending too much time in it can bring about claustrophobia and can lead to mental stagnation. Richard goes out into the real world to look for for fresh perspectives. He meets people – some strangers and some former acquaintances – with diverse opinions and world views and every person that he meets on that particular night maintains an air of mystery about them. They just might be physical manifestations of Richard’s soul and the existential questions that have bothered him for a long time.

Richard is half-Indian and half English and this identity adds cultural pluralism to the narrative. The film is a personal tale of overcoming emotional and creative roadblocks as well as a commentary on creating art. An artist is shaped by the people he meets and the mistakes he makes.