Put some clothes on boys. John and Hector (Drahos and Khabazzi) become drug buddies
dir Dirk Shafer
scr Gregory Hinton, Dirk Shafer
with Jonathan Wade Drahos, Andre Khabazzi, Daniel Kukan, Paul Lekakis, Brian Lane Green, Darryl Stephens, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Kiersten Warren, Brian Beacock, Jim J Bullock, Bruce Vilanch
release US 26.Apr.02; UK LLGFF Apr.02
Dramatising life in L.A.'s circuit party scene, this is one of those films that has an important message and knows it. A bit of thematic restraint would have made it much, much stronger. When John (Drahos) is bullied by his coworkers over his sexuality, he quits his job as a cop and moves to Los Angeles to stay with his cousin Tad (Kukan), a former party boy who is making a documentary about the circuit scene. Tall and handsome, John is quite a splash in the gay clubs, and quickly becomes friends with local hustler Hector (Khabazzi), who introduces him to parties and drugs ... beginning a swift downward spiral. It's up to Tad's ex (Green) and John's old college girlfriend (Warren) to help pull him out of it.
There's a great story here, and the film looks excellent, with lively camera work and eye-catching actors. But the entire thing is awash in self-importance, most notably in the editing (it could easily be half an hour shorter, and would be stronger for it). It's like director-cowriter Shafer just couldn't bear to leave anything out, so we have strong but ultimately pointless scenes cluttering up the film--a saddo studio exec (Bullock, strangely with an I in his first name after all those years without it), the cat-and-birds sideline, a clash between the married party organisers (the superb Katt and Allen). There are also a few weak-link performances, most notably Drahos and Kukan, who are attractive and interesting but somewhat mechanical. Meanwhile, Khabazzi is a standout as the narcissistic ageist, with kudos also to natural performances from newcomer Lekakis (as a struggling stripper) and Stephens (as Tad's new beau, a seemingly airhead DJ). Over all, the film is full of strong observations and compelling situations. But early on we realise this is a cautionary tale, so we wait for the shoes to start dropping in the final act. Someone will surely die. People will learn Important Life Lessons. And the cliched plotline simply won't leave room for subtlety or honest reality.
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