Rating: 4 out of 5.

It warms my heart to see the popularity of drag queens soaring over the past decade. Little indie Three Nights a Week is a celebration of the real work that goes into being a successful drag performer—furthermore, it pays loving tribute to the faces behind the makeup and lashes. Through the lens of “straight” photographer Baptiste (Pablo Pauly, The French Dispatch), we follow him on an unforgettable journey as he finds love while tapping into his untouched feminine side. I would highly recommend this French drama to even casual admirers of drag and the LGBT scene. If Three Nights a Week provides only a fleeting peep into this world, it does so with an assured hand, led by queer creatives. 

Baptiste is taking photos for a clinic that his girlfriend is involved with, as they hand out condoms for AIDS day. Even though Baptiste has been with Samia (Hafsia Herzi) for eight years, their relationship is kind of “on the skids.” That very day, he meets two drag queens outside—one of them, Cookie Kunty (Romain Eck), shares an instant connection with Baptiste, and an electric charge of red-hot sensuality can be felt between them. Baptiste decides that photographing the queens could be a perfect photo project. He discusses a potential opportunity with Cookie, who quickly agrees in the throes of competing in the Drag Olympics. The winner will be gifted 20,000 euros! Baptiste seems titillated and intrigued by the thought of drag, as his casual flirtation with Cookie grows deeper by the day.

Soon enough, Baptiste gives in to his desires. When he first meets Cookie out of drag, presenting as Quentin, he is taken aback that her voice sounds the same. Hanging out at a bar together, Quentin makes a grab for his hand, but Baptiste seems embarrassed, and openly recoils. Baptiste is clearly freaked out, not fully comfortable with his sexuality yet. Not only that, but Baptiste still technically lives with Samia. However, the more that Quentin and Baptiste hang out together, a love begins to take shape. Baptiste finds Cookie to be gorgeous, but Quentin himself is equally beautiful and fascinating. Can the two manage to balance a complicated relationship with the stress of the Drag Olympics competition? 

Three Nights a Week gets so much right, and exists in a space that few queer films I have watched would dare. An approach in admiration of the person behind the drag is something we rarely see, if ever, depicted on film. In a way, the movie becomes a gay rom-com, but not one that basks in cliche or folds itself into generic corners. Samia is not presented as some frigid clueless bitch—she has real feelings, and becomes paramount to the narrative at hand. A beautiful, passionate speech from Baptiste’s heart acts as the emotional crux, and moreover as the centerpiece of Three Nights a Week. Between talk of cock size, glittery crotches, and walks of shame, it is practically revelatory that the film is able to drive home its ultimate messages with the ease of a steady hand. “Everyone’s welcome in the queendom of drag!”

Three Nights a Week screened at 2022’s Venice Film Festival.

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