The Fluffer
dir Richard Glatzer, Wash West
scr Wash West
with Michael Cunio, Scott Gurney, Robert Walden, Roxanne Day, Josh Holland, Deborah Harry, Richard Riehle, Adina Porter, Taylor Negron, Tim Bagley, Ruben Madera, Mickey Cottrell
release US 16.Nov.01; UK 18.Jan.02
01/US 1h35 3 out of 5 stars

Read Rich's INTERVIEW with the directors
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

watch what you wish for An offbeat mixture of comedy and drama, The Fluffer marks the mainstream crossover of porn filmmaker West, working with Grief director Glatzer. When Sean (Cunio) rents Citizen Kane at his local video shop, he gets the wrong tape in the box: a gay porn film called Citizen Cum. And he's so obsessed by its beefy star, Johnny Rebel (Gurney), that he applies for a cameraman job at the production company. Soon he's not only shooting scenes of his new idol, but he's also acting as Johnny's "fluffer"--getting him, erm, ready for the climactic shots. But Johnny's straight--he only does these videos on a "gay for pay" basis. And his lap-dancer girlfriend (Day) is worried about where their relationship is heading.

What starts as a rather dry and astute satire of the porn industry (including lots of hilarious on-set sequences and, of course, punny titles galore) slowly turns into a serious romantic drama involving Johnny's steady decline into a world of drugs and desperation, while the two people who love him try to save him from himself. It's pretty bleak, really, encompassing a murder, increasingly creepy flashbacks and the seedy aspects of the sex trade. And the more we learn about Johnny the less we can understand why anyone would be attracted to him; sure, he looks gorgeous, but under the skin he's a lowlife! Even with this uneven structure though, the film is extremely well-made, written and directed with honest insight into this hidden world and the people who populate it. And there's not an unconvincing performance anywhere--the entire cast is excellent, playing the scenes with a natural wit and vulnerability. Especially illuminating are the former porn stars (Walden, Riehle, Negron and Bagley), now all working behind the scenes and longing for the limelight. Surprisingly strong stuff for a comedy.
adult themes and situations, language, brief nudity, drugs cert 18 30.Mar.01 llgff

send your review to Shadows... R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

Sam Warren, New York: "One of the most realistic films I've ever seen. Every one of the actors is right on the money. The story takes a turn or two away from the broad comedy set up in the beginning, but it sustains itself quite well and never falls into the trap of wrapping things up neatly at the expense of believability. Not to give anything away, but Johnny can't be anything more than what he is, although everyone keeps trying to help him change. And that just may be the subtext the director is shooting for when all clocks always read 9:30. A very insightful film - and very funny, too." (29.Nov.01) watch what you wish for

Tom Ross, Honolulu: "The ultimate gay-boy-gets-special-privileges-with-straight-hunk fantasy, with an homage to Truffaut's 400 Blows, no pun intended; it even recreates the famous last scene very effectively. Good writing and acting, surprisingly sophisticated. Well worth seeing." (17.Dec.01)

River14, HK: 4/5 "Not a comedy at all,but a sensitive look at the vulnerabilities of characters involved in the homosexual porno industry in Hollywood. A light weight movie, but with just enough drama and excellent character acting to make it a genuinly good movie. Not at all what you might expect from a gay movie." (6.Sep.04)

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall