Early one morning, a thirtyish Parisian man (Pascal Cervo) starts off on a road trip out of the city. As he drives down the highway, his phone starts chirping the ringtone most gay men will instantly recognize (whether they want to admit it or not). Pierre is on a vision quest of sorts—toward destinations determined by the meet-up app Grindr.
Back in Paris, Pierre’s lover, Paul (Arthur Igual), wakes up to find Pierre is missing. He’s not answering his calls. So what is Pierre doing, exactly? It is unclear, especially in the opening scenes, which are just of Pierre driving along listening to classical music with Grindr messages chirruping away.
Over his journey he meets several men and experiences varying degrees of intimacy with them. There is the young gay (Matthieu Chevé) stuck living in a small town. Then there is the traveling salesman (Bertrand Nadler), who takes a fetishistic interest in Pierre’s car, and an older man (Jean-Christophe Bouvet), who runs a pub in Savoie. It’s unmistakable that these three men represent three stages of life: youth, middle age, and old age.
Meanwhile, there is very little to be known about Pierre. He is tucked in and buttoned-up, with not a single hair out of place. He listens to classical music, and yet when asked by a new acquaintance to say the first thing that pops into his head, he answers, “Kylie Minogue.” The man has a flamboyant side he keeps contained, which would explain not only this trip and the anonymous sexual encounters but also why he himself can’t quite articulate what it is he is looking for.
Pierre also encounters a singer (Fabienne Babe), whose car breaks down, and he gives a ride to her gig at a retirement home; a bookseller (Natalie Richard), who turns out to be someone from his past; and a thief (Lætitia Dosch), with whom he participates in existential barter. Intermittently there is also his Aunt Judith (played by veteran actress Liliane Montevecchi), who is Paul’s partner in trying to locate Pierre. A well-traveled woman herself, she has a good idea of what Pierre is going through.
Paul cleverly decides to use Grindr to track Pierre down. He rents a room above a pub in the village that is at the very center of France (he can look out the window and see the commemorative monument). To understand how Paul could try to track Pierre down, you need to understand how Grindr works. It takes your location using satellite Global Positioning System (GPS), then casts a circular net around you to find other Grindr users. You cannot search by location (such as putting in a city name or zip code) or even by member name, which maintains Grindr’s brand of anonymity.
If you are within a heavily populated area, then your Grindr will display profiles that are very close to you, within 20 feet sometimes, with the breadth of your GPS circle stretching out perhaps one to five miles at most. If you go into a less densely populated area (countryside), then the profiles displayed on your Grindr will have greater distances between them. In somewhere like central Illinois, at certain times of day your Grindr could display profiles from more than 200 miles away. I should know. I used to live in central Illinois. So Paul positions himself in the exact center of the country, and if Pierre is traveling across the country, at some point his Grindr profile should show up on Paul’s Grindr display.
For his first feature film, writer-director Jérôme Reybaud has done a solid job. The themes of technology, aging, and provincial versus urban life are all relevant and fresh. There is some beautiful scenery on display, especially in the scenes set in the French Alps. The film runs pretty long though, dragging to its climax, which could have come 20 minutes earlier. Of course, if Pierre had chosen to use Scruff instead of Grindr, Paul could have searched by username and the movie would have been over a lot sooner.