BY Lawrence Ferber
September 16 2009 2:10 PM ET
“We got on well together and became friends,” Vincent recalls, “and I was thinking they deserve a whole feature film because outside of their immediate physical impact they carry a very powerful, strong story. The first thing I did for Hand was to interview them for hours, but I interviewed them separately because when together they always fight.” After listening to their stories, a semi-improvised film outline emerged and the gang hit the road.
A month or so prior to meeting Vincent in Paris, I sat down for a chat with the twins in a Manhattan hotel and casually mentioned their resemblance to Daniel Day Lewis. “You’re not the first person to say so!” Alexandre responded to my observation, adding, “We not only love him, but he happens to be our mother’s favorite actor, so it’s an excellent compliment to both us and our mother.”
Physically, they’re identical. They share a single driver’s license and Paris Metro card. Superficially, their appearances are distinguished by flourishes rather than grand gestures. Necklaces crowd Victor’s neck, dangling a cascade of trinkets -- a small seashell, a key -- collected during travels. Alexandre opts for a black-and-white polka-dot bandanna. Their footwear is a similar story. Both pairs of shoes are fashioned from a smoky latte leather smudged with charcoal-like staining, yet Alexandre’s lacks laces or eyeholes, the unrestrained tongues flapped upward, while Victor’s are laced, the surface decorated with intricate, embroidered patterns.
Other differences run deeper. In Hand, the Carrils’ respective characters, Antoine (Alexandre) and Quentin (Victor), take sexual turns with a woman, which sparks a row between them (a similar incident occurs in Baby Shark). But the turning point and a fracture in their shared identity arises when Quentin is caught having sex with Hakim (Samir Harrag), a handsome fellow they meet while on the road.
“My idea was that the two brothers in the beginning are merged, sharing everything including girls and sex,” Vincent says. “And everything’s going well until the character of Antoine finds out his brother has a different sexuality than he has. It causes a rupture, a split.”
Victor had no qualms shooting the gay sex scene, nor did his Muslim costar (although a bit involving spit-swapping was an issue for the latter -- it was during Ramadan and due to fasting he refused to take anything in his mouth). But Victor was reticent to discuss his own same-sex experiences or attractions in front of his brother. “Not only is it something I don’t discuss with my brother, it’s not something I would discuss in an interview either,” Victor responded, his twin observing coolly. “Intimacy and sexuality are not something we discuss or share so much.”