As expertly revealed in docu “Husbands at All Costs,” the gay marriage debate isn’t confined to the States. Helmers Jean-Michel Vennemani and Yves Jeuland follow the first gay couple to marry in France, focusing as much on the admirable mayor who performed the ceremony as the two men themselves. The double grooms prove to be politically naive and ethically suspect, but mayor Noel Mamere appears a genuine hero. A worthy choice for gay fests, docu should also fit comfortably on cable.
Helmers began shooting in May 2004, three weeks before the ceremony in the southwest town of Begles. Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier answered Mamere’s call for a same-sex couple living within his district to marry, but neither are exactly poster boys for the cause. Not very bright and positively venal in their dealings with well-wishers, they let the mayor and his hard-working entourage handle the media circus — and the hate mail. Mamere offers a memorable wedding speech embodying the essence of the French doctrinal belief in equality. Throughout ups and downs, helmers don’t miss a beat; docu is tightly edited.