mon 25/08/2014

Mr Right | Film reviews, news & interviews

Mr Right

A hom-rom-com without much rom or com

Luke de Woolfson as Alex: low budget is no guarantee of depth in a subpar 'This Life' gone gay,
Luke de Woolfson as Alex: low budget is no guarantee of depth in a subpar 'This Life' gone gay,
London builds on its metrosexual status in Mr Right, a dreary gay-themed indie in which the metropolis by default becomes the star. There's nary a homophobe in sight - not to mention a traffic snarl-up or tube strike - in brother-sister filmmaking team David and Jacqui Morris's view of the capital, which looks giddy and rife with possibilities throughout. Shame, then, about the script.

I suspect the film itself would come across as suffocatingly banal and solipsistic under any circumstances, but doubly so at a time when the London theatre is dealing with so many of these issues in infinitely more complex and probing ways. By the end of a long-seeming movie that in fact is fairly short, you want to round up the characters and frogmarch them to the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs to take in a real analysis of sexual hunger and confusion, Mike Bartlett's altogether terrific Cock.

In the meantime, one is stuck with a subpar This Life gone gay that proves little beyond the fact that low-budget enterprises with no stars can feel just as shallow as the glossiest Hollywood product. Mr Right does feature a likeable performance or two, notably from Luke de Woolfson as a caterer who wants to act and Rocky Marshall as a once-straight father whose young daughter doesn't take kindly to newcomers in daddy's bed. But the movie passes off stock situations as the stuff of revelation and brooding introspection as if that by itself were deep. And you thought gay men were fun? The happiest creature on view would seem to be Alex's rabbit, who makes a habit of eating its own poo.

The lineup in David Morris's script, directed by sister Jacqui, has as a fulcrum of sorts Harry (James Lance), a TV producer restless in both his work and personal life. On and then off again with de Woolfson's younger Alex, his live-in partner of a year, Harry falls for the musculature of eventual personal trainer, Lars (Benjamin Hart), whose own lover, Tom (played by the film's author), is an in-demand artist whose canvases are seen to speak particularly to fatuously prissy Americans. (The gallery scene is not one of the film's high points.)

Marshall's sports-minded William has a nine-year-old daughter, Georgy, possessed of a disconcerting penchant for surprising dad's bedmates in costume wielding a knife. In the freshest of the various narratives, she is discovered quite understandably to be hankering for the affections of a father that, in her view, are excessively diverted toward Lawrence (Leon Ockenden), a soap star with a sweet smile and not, it would appear, very much else.

And so the movie goes, a comment in the press notes about the filmmakers' desire that we "forget the characters are gay" quite extraordinary in view of the is he/isn't he question mark that hangs over the eye-catching boyfriend of the movie's lone female of note, the gay-friendly Louise (Georgia Zaris): how, then, are we supposed to forget? That dollop of suspense as to sexuality leads to a visual curlicue at the film's wrap-up about which I will say no more, beyond noting that women by now ought to demand to be regarded within gay male scenarios as more than so many convenient cast-offs.

After a while, too, one tires of the limited London W1 hothouse in which these characters ceaselessly collide. That, in turn, generates a sense of relief when Alex returns home to his working-class roots and to a family that may not be as dismissive as they first appear: one senses in that sequence the potential for a more properly moving and troubling dissection of family dynamics, but Mr Right before long is back on its soap-operatic way, and fair enough. There's a rabbit, after all, in Soho just waiting to be fed.

Mr Right opens Friday

The happiest creature on view would seem to be Alex's rabbit, who makes a habit of eating its own poo

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