In his first feature-length film, “4 Days in France,” French director Jérôme Reybaud takes the audience on a special tour de France in which two lovers travel the countryside using Grindr, a gay dating app.
After his partner left with no explanation, Paul decides to go looking for him using the geo-tracker feature on Grindr that shows profiles of nearby active users. Their game of cat-and-mouse aside, it is really the strangers that the two men meet — a thief, a barman who longs for impersonal hookups, and a melancholy singer resigned to working in a retirement home, among many — that give this film its interest. Blunt but sentimental, these encounters punctuate the wandering of a pair of lonely lovers across rural France.
France-Amérique: What made you pick Grindr as the driver of your film?
Jérôme Reybaud: This allows me to portray the culture of gay cruising and hookups. Straight people don’t go out of their way to choose routes, roads or destinations to have hookups like gay people do. These hookups create a relation between the landscape and desire.
Every road and village that the two characters take in the movie was shot on location. How did you develop this route?
I was born in Cannes and my mother still lives there. I don’t take the train or the plane, so I drive 900 kilometers from Paris when I visit her. When I started writing the script, I could visualize almost every road in the movie because I had taken them for years. There was no need for location scouts when we started production. When someone sees the film and says to me, “I know exactly this little road, absolutely unknown in Provence,” that’s a victory for me because I connected the audience with a part of their own landscape.
Do you agree when American critics label your film a “typical French road movie”?
I feel far away from French cinema. I don’t really like most French films. However, I understand that someone from abroad might feel that my movie has some features that are very French. But, I remember in Rome, a viewer said to me, “We are so happy to see a French movie that was not shot in Paris.” For this Italian, French cinema is always centered on Paris, in a little apartment with two lovers fighting. It’s a cliché, of course, but there’s some reality to that. My film shows that I had the ambition to leave Paris and say something about France and its geography.
Watch the trailer: