The Unknown Cyclist
This is a really sweet film about a group of people forced, against their wills, into taking part in the Ride For Life: a bike ride in California to raise money for AIDS. Chris has just died of AIDS and in his will he asks his lover, Doug, his ex-wife Melissa, and his best friend to do the ride and scatter his ashes in a place they choose. He also asks his twin brother, Frank, a straight New York policeman, played by the gorgeous Vincent Spano. Itís quite clever in the beginning, which takes place during Chrisís wake, because there are huge pictures of this gorgeous guy who has just died and then he walks inóhis twin bother and the loss is brought home very poignantly.
The dialogue is sparkling, the acting excellent and the scenery worth watching on its on. No gay action at all, but just a fun, moving film about loss and how it can, eventually, bring the most disparate of people together.
Frank has just lost twin brother Chris to AIDS; but really heíd lost him a long time before because Chris was gay and disowned by his family when he came out.† Frank had a hard time accepting it, now itís too late and heís got to live with that. To honour his brotherís dying wishes Frank reluctantly agrees to take part in a charity cycle ride, 450 miles along Northern Californiaís Pacific coast.† Itís the only way heís going to get Chrisí ashes to take home to New York says his brotherís flamboyant lawyer. Accompanying Frank are Doug, Chrisí devoted husband, Melissa, his ex-wife, and Gaetano, hunky stud muffin whose exact relationship to the dead man is unclear, but heís sex-on-legs.
Self-righteous queen Doug has no time for handsome Frank, angry at his apparently uncaring attitude even when Chris was dying, his heterophobia equal to Frankís homophobic hang-ups, though Frank at least is trying to overcome his prejudices.† Melissa is having an existential crisis and Gaetano hard-living party boy clearly needs some direction.† Chris brought together the 4 most important people in his life for a reason.† They were his family and now they need strength and healing.
Just to complicate matters, both Doug and Melissa are attracted to Frank because he looks so much like the dead man both loved deeply and miss so much it hurts.† Macho cop Frank is threatened by the gay men around him on the bike ride, so terrified itís quite endearing.† Of course heís gorgeous, which helps too!† Gaetano has problems of his own and a special reason for completing the race.
The scenery is beautiful, perfect backdrop to one of those life-affirming, inspirational, tug-at-the-heart-strings movies America does so well.† It just avoids mawkish sentimentality with an injection of humour and leaves a warm glow in its wake.
Itís similar to one of my favourite films here LE FATE IGNORANTE in that Frank belatedly discovers his brother had a whole life he didnít know about, with a family of friends who loved him.† Thatís one of the messages of this heart warming film, that we all make our own families, people who donít put conditions on their love, who accept us for what we are not what they want us to be.
Each character is changed by the end, brought together by a shared experience of loss to realise differences donít matter when you care for someone.† I enjoyed the film.† Itís got a nice mix of gay/straight characters.† I liked the exchange between Doug and his mother, who really knows her son is gay but doesnít want to know so it canít actually be said between them.† Not the most challenging of films perhaps, but nice and entertaining, perfect viewing for a quiet Saturday night.