This is a gay movie in the sense that Schindlerís List is about being German. Itís an intense drama, wonderfully acted, but I came to the end angry about its message. Who is responsible if you become HIV positive? Is it the person you slept with who has it? Is it the person who gave it to them? Is it you for sleeping with someone in the first place? This film tries to explore all these questions, and I had no problem with that. It is so wonderfully acted by the two leading men, their emotions are so raw and so well developed that the exploration of these questions is quite mesmerising. However, the film makers must surely ask themselves why, given the unique plot, exceptional writing and acting, this has not become a better known movie. I think theyíd do well to look to their aim in making it. If you alienate your main target audience, then youíve got a real problem.
Having said all this, ending apart, this is pretty much a must-see movie. There is not a single gay kiss in it let alone sex, but for once I didnít actually miss them. The relationship between the two men, the kidnapper and the hostage is so raw that you can feel the sparks. There are moments when Tom leans over Dan to fix duct tape on his mouth and itís almost like a caress: the expression beloved enemy has never seemed so apt.
I think the film must have been adapted from a stage play. The two men and the apartment are central to every shot. Itís really all dialogue as you explore and unravel the relationship between the two of them. Itís no coincidence (and perhaps the only heavy-handed device in the film) that Tom wanted to be an archaeologist, and the metaphor of digging up and raking over of the past is the central one for the movie.
One you really need to see. It will spark some controversy if nothing else.
A tense psychological thriller thatís a good ad for safe sex, gay or straight.† There are compelling performances from James Marsden and Scott Steedman.† Iíd never heard of either but they arenít just (very) pretty faces.† As the film is a head-to-head, it stands or falls on the actorsí believability.† Itís down to them that, despite a script that strains credibility more than once, the film works.† Though they couldíve cut a lengthy discussion of the merits of two Charlieís Angels.†
Steedman plays Tom, shy straight guy, who meets Dan (Marsden), flirty gayboy in a bar one night and gets drunk enough to take him home.† They chat about TV and movie trivia, and generally behave like buddies.† Until Dan makes a move on Tom, who backs away from the kiss.† First surprise.† Tom questions Dan about his sexual habits, demanding to know how many other men heís been with before.† Yes, heís had other partners, says Dan, but heís not a slut: heís only had sex with another man 6 or 7 times and definitely wore a condom, so it was safe.
I thought I had Tom figured, deep in the closet, ashamed of his desire, deeply repressed, guilty about his attraction to openly out Dan, etc.† But thereís a twist.† As they debate trust and sexual promiscuity, Dan realises this isnít the first time heís visited Tomís small apartment.† Heís in fact Tomís only previous one-night stand.†
It was 5 years earlier, and Dan was so stoned he canít remember what happened.† But Tom has perfect recall, because it was his one and only time with another man.† They met at the same bar then spent the night together.† Tom has planned this meeting with a clear sense of purpose.† Suddenly the mood changes, and he freaks out.† Ties Dan to a chair, demanding to know how he can be so certain he was safe if he canít remember anything about that night?†† Threatens to kill him.
The director adapted his stage play, and the film feels like a theatrical production.† Apart from the opening and flashback scenes that fill in backstory, we hardly leave a shabby apartment set.† This isnít an action film, no whizz-bang special effect trickery or anything.† Thereís no sex or nudity either, which is certainly bold for a gay movie, and probably explains why they cast two beautiful men to hold our interest.† And an intriguing story that asks you to think about serious moral and social issues.
There are weaknesses.† An escape attempt thatís laughably inept.† They chat like thereís nothing wrong, despite initial fear that makes Dan soil himself.† But curiosity about what would drive a good man to commit such a desperate act really got me hooked.† As Dan gets to know Tom, he starts to sympathise with him.† Stockholm syndrome or something more profound?† Can Tom carry out his threat to kill a man heís become so intimate with?
The film examines attitudes to sexuality:† we put people into boxes, labelled Ďgayí or Ďstraightí but itís not that simple. A girl tells her boyfriend she fancies sex with another woman.† He's not disgusted but turned on, wants to watch.† But a guy saying he wants to sleep with another man is somehow unnatural?† Humbug!† Weíre all, to varying degrees, a little bit gay, and society is wrong to deny that and force rigid conformity.
The message isnít anti-sex or homophobic at all† But it says responsibility goes with pleasure.† We make choices and weíre accountable for our actions.†† Thereís a poignant moment when Dan says he wants to know how it feels to not have to care:† to experience sexual freedom of the post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS era.† In the end, both men accept their accountability.† But weíre left to draw our own conclusions.† Thereís enough sexual tension between Tom and Dan, though nothing overt.† Under the circumstances it wouldíve been out of place.† Above average, recommended viewing.