Cowboys and Angels
This was a rather puzzling Irish film about a young man experiencing the city for the first time. I found it puzzling because at times I seemed to be watching a different film to the one they seemed to be making. Written down, the plot sounds great. A very naÔve lad, Shane, moves into a flat with slightly older, confident gay guy, Vincent. Shane unwittingly becomes involved with the local drug dealer, Keith, and trying to find a new, sexier image for himself, he begins to hang around in the clubs with Keith, doing drugs and generally getting into trouble. Vincent helps him finds his true path and Shane decides there is more to life than wasting it as he has been. Watching this play out on screen was confusing because neither the characters nor the dialogue ever came up to expectations. Vincent (Allen Leech) was possibly the worst gay characterisation Iíve seen. Other than hair gel, some fey hand movements and the worse wardrobe in a movie, he had no other reason for being gay and really didnít convince at all. His dialogue was stilted and unrealistic, and as if to tone down the feyness of his occasional hand movements, the rest of his role was played out as if he was either embarrassed to be in the film or just bored. Michael Legge was better as Shane, but we were supposed to be sold this great transformation. Other than using Vincentís hair gel and buying a new shirt, he really didnít change at all. Weíve seen far better films about finding identityóEdge of Seventeen is everything this film strives to be but isnít.
The film is marketed as a gay film, which is really annoying. Having a gay character doesnít make a gay movie! However, unexpectedly, there was a surprising gay moment toward the end of the movie, but it came to nothing and set up such a sense of disappointment that quite soured the way the movie did end.
I wouldnít watch this as a gay movie, so without that, to be honest, there is very little in it. Not an entirely wasted evening but one I wonít be writing home about.
An Irish feelgood coming-of-age story with charm and substance, impossible not to like.† Not perfect, but Iíd definitely recommend the film for an eveningís entertainment.† I had issues with aspects of the story that stretch credulity on a few points and relies on one of those fortuitous coincidences to solve a serious problem in a way I didnít find entirely convincing.† The central relationship isnít romantic but strictly (sadly) platonic, between two cute 20-somethings, former schoolmates reunited because neither can afford to rent a flat on his own.
Set in Limerick light years from Angelaís Ashes- the boy who played older Frank in that movie is one of the co-stars here- beautifully shot as a vibrant, pulsating centre of life and experience.
Shane is a sweet innocent coddled by his mother, dressed like a middle-aged man in respectable jeans and comfy jumpers.† Stuck in a boring Ministry of Agriculture job while longing to go to Art School, Shane moves out of the family home into the centre of Limerick hoping itíll be the beginning of a new exciting life.
Vince is a flamboyant gay fashion design student straight out of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, closet full of stylish individualism and bathroom cupboard stacked with cosmetics and creams.†
Chalk & cheese, yet Shane and Vince hit it off from the start.† The young actors have such great chemistry itís really a pity they remain friends only (well for slashers anyway).† Still itís refreshing the story resists that well trodden line to concentrate on a buddy/buddy pairing that shows men need friends just as much as girls to help them through lifeís highs and lows.
Actually I wouldíve liked to see more of Shane & Victor together because theyíre the best thing about this film.† As it is their blossoming friendship gets sidelined as Shane, in a desperate attempt to shed the square image he thinks holds him back, becomes drawn into a mire of drug running and conspicuous consumption, to the detriment of his well being and relationship with Vince who hates drugs. This is definitely the weakest link because of the way itís used for dramatic purpose then quickly discarded for a nice neat happy ending.†
Shane is lonely and feels he doesnít fit in anywhere, so his solution is to reinvent himself (aided of course by personal stylist and fashion consultant Vince) as the man he always wanted to be, i.e. anyone but who he is.† Shane has serious issues with self-esteem and it proves his undoing.† Except this is a feelgood movie so his descent isnít allowed to go too far- a nasty hit & run incident when carrying drugs from Dublin for a local dealer isnít allowed to interfere with that.
Fans of TV series Father Ted will be delighted to see Father Jack (cleaned up) as Jerry, a soon to retire Civil Servant who has hated his job for 40 years and advises Shane not to make his mistake but to follow his dreams.
Shane falls for Vinceís best† friend Gemma, who, of course, has the hots for Vince.† Thereís a poignant scene where she tries very hard to Ďconvertí him, doomed to fail though he does try hard to make it work for her because he cares.
Itís good to see the straight guy for once as the messed up character while the gay guy is happy, relaxed and confident.† Thereís a bit of a surprise when finally a pass is made at Shane by another man and itís NOT Vince. ††Vince is rather under developed- we see him only in one encounter, a steamy session with an older man that turns out to be pivotal to the plot.† He doesnít seem to have a boyfriend though heís a real catch.† Which only made me think he and Shane would end up together.
I enjoyed this one, mostly for the two boys even though I was frustrated by lack of romance.† Rather than movies targeted at a specific GLBT audience this probably is the way it should be, integrated and inclusive, a story that will reach those who wouldnít think to go see a gay movie.† Gay and straight people live together in the real world and films must reflect that experience.