Dir: Q Allan Brocka. US. 2006. 88mins.
A slick slice of gay American life which begins incynical posturing and ends in sweet romance, Boy Culture is already one of the gay festival season's talkingpoints. Filled with the hot guys and wise-ass dialogue that are customary intoday's knowing same-sex celluloid, it has a ready-made commercial life in thelively US gay theatrical, DVD and TV arenas, as well as international nicheoutlets.
It could even get some post-Brokebackattention outside the ghetto as was seen recently when it was programmed forthe Tribeca Film Festival.
But whereas Brokeback Mountain captured a longing that bothgay and straight audiences could understand, Boy Culture is set much more specifically in an "out" milieu andits primary audience is unquestionably a gay one. The easy sex, hustling anddrug use in the film, while not necessarily displayed as proud tokens of thelifestyle, nonetheless brand it with the stamp of stereotypical gay-bad-boy behaviour.
It does not help that thehero of the film, a handsome 26 year-old known merely as "X" (Magyar) is aprostitute who has spent 10 years cultivating a reliable client base inSeattle. The film is presented as the confessions of X, who, although happy tobe paid for sex, has a strong moral streak which means that he does not approveof the promiscuity so rampant in young gay men.
Or maybe he just disapprovesof it in his room-mate Andrew (Stephens) with whom he is in love. His otherroom-mate Joey (Trent) is a loud-mouthed teen who sleeps with anyone introusers but secretly harbours love for X.
The catalyst of the drama isGregory (Bauchau), a 79 year-old agoraphobic and X'slatest client. Gregory refuses to have sex with X until the young man genuinelydesires him, and in the meantime tells him stories of how he met the love ofhis life 50 years previously. Gregory's partner has recently died, but theirlifelong love encourages X to take an emotional risk and get romanticallyinvolved with Andrew.
It becomes quickly apparentthat X is afraid of such an endeavour since it means he will lose control.Indeed Andrew seems willing to get together on condition that X quits his lifeas an escort. As a means to take their relationship further, Andrew invites himto Portland to meet his family and attend his ex-fiancee'swedding.
As directed by Brocka, whose first film Eating Out was another cute-guy-love-triangle, Boy Culture is tailor-made to appeal to its target audience andindeed it was an instant favourite at the London Lesbian & Gay FilmFestival where it had its world premiere last month.
The good-looking youngactors all acquit themselves well both as actors and hunks, a necessity sincethey appear frequently sans shirts. Their muscular bodies will no doubt grace theDVD sleeve, a given with gay titles bearing in mind the fact that the biggestplatform for Boy Culture and mostmovies of its ilk is in the home market.
Bauchau brings some pedrigree tothe cast and weight to the film as the old man who is not as honest as heseems.
Q Allan Brocka
from the novel by Mathew Rettenmund
Phillip J Bartell