The Man With The Answers ****
Starring: Vasilis Magouliotis, Anton Weil
Director: Stelios Kammitsis
It’s been a while since a genuinely touching gay romance hit UK screens, but thanks to this beautiful road trip movie from Cypriot director Stelios Kammitsis, not only do we get to travel the beautiful vistas of southern Europe – which is wonderful in a year where our holiday plans seem likely cancelled – but also fall in love while we do it.
Viktoras (Magouliotis) is a competitive diver in Greece, whose career has passed its prime without fulfilling its promise. After the death of his grandmother, he spontaneously decides to leave everything behind and drive to Germany, without mention to anyone as to why. On the ferry across to Italy, he meets Mathias (Weil), a free-spirited German traveller who promises to guide him north if he receives a lift in return. Reluctantly, Viktor agrees, initially finding this talkative stranger an imposition on his solitude. But as they travel the Italian countryside and Mathias persuades him to start letting his hair down, Viktor begins to feel an attraction to the man who is slowly making him feel at ease with himself, at last.
While the revelation of Viktor’s reason for travelling to Germany isn’t exactly a plot-twist, the enigma surrounding his motive does imbue the character with enough of an edge to create a mysterious romantic lead. Mathias is incredibly charming, so as he begins to grind down his new companion’s hard shell, you can’t help but find him getting beneath our skin too. Mathias is, after all, the titular man with the answers, even if we never know exactly what for. Or maybe Viktor has Mathias’ answers? Or maybe that’s the point?
Like all good road trip movies, both men learn much about themselves along the way. The point is not the destination, but instead the journey, and this journey is absolutely stunning, drenched in beauty from both its picture-perfect scenes in Puglia and the Alps and also from its leads, neither of whom are exactly ugly. This is a film selling glorious idealism; hunks falling in love against a picturesque landscape – Brokeback Mountain established that winning formula and if it ain’t broke…
What’s particularly refreshing is the ambiguity of Viktor’s sexuality. There’s no big “I’m gay” moment, with the audience here realising he has feelings for Mathias at the same speed he is. And it’s about as big a deal to him as realising that he’s hungry. This is a film about love, not sexuality; which makes a nice change! And for born romantics, there are enough longing looks, lingering touches and blistering tension to make this tick all the right boxes. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it does, it does incredibly well.
UK Release: 28th June 2021 on Peccadillo POD and DVD, 5th July on wider digital release, from Peccadillo Pictures.