Gay romance features strongly in this emotionally poignant tale of boys in love, from writer and director David Oliveras.
And it all revolves around Daniel Wheeler; Danny to his friends and in particular to his best friend and certified fag hag Andy. Yet she, together with Danny’s art teacher Mrs Martin can see talent when it is before them. Only here Danny’s love for drawing matches the passion that new kid about town Carter Melman holds for swimming, that is when he’s not out causing mischief. An eye-candy styled teen into trouble and drugs, he’s also more than gay friendly, as Danny is soon to discover when Carter comes to stay for the weekend when his father is away on business.
Only too eager to write Carter’s Shakespearean essay in return for Carter’s willingness to model for him, the two rapidly become more than just good friends. That is, when behind closed doors, given Carter does not want to know Danny when in class, forever living in fear of the disclosure of their friendship outing the true nature of his sexuality. Yet how long can their closeted relationship remain a secret from the homophobic thugs on the school swimming team, that Carter swims alongside?
In many ways here I reminded of the Jules Nurrish short No Ordinary Joe and the line "you know it all ends in disappointment, but there is beauty along the way." Only this is not a cinematic spoiler. For the trouble with this intense tale is the opening scene, one that signals that the burgeoning romance remembered by an older Danny, now a successful artist in his own right, was not to be. All of which cannot help but make you question just how long will it be before the romantic bliss that follows, turns sour? Frankly this is an unnecessary framework, leaving Danny’s (now turned actor Ian Rhodes) relationship with new boyfriend Allan, the hunky Edward Finlay, underdeveloped in comparison with the central and far more rewarding flashback story, even if it is all but clear from the onset that such was destined to be a tragic affair.
That said and in an inspired choice of casting, Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis is to be seen as Carter’s swimming coach, whilst the ever adorable Karen Black of too many films to list, but cue Red Dirt, is found relishing in the role of arty Mrs Martin, just as Casey Kramer as Danny’s liberal minded mother Miriam is a joy to behold, even if her screen time is all but limited. Then again, this is but a Danny / Carter double act. Only whilst newcomer Kyle Clare as Carter gives an emotional performance, alongside providing the bare-arsed cheek of the piece, it is Tye Olson who steals the show, perfectly homing in on the heart and mind of a geek styled teenager as much in love with his man, as he is in love with love itself.
Beautifully shot and executed, if at times surreal and put it this way that leak in the living room really needs fixing, this delectable work with winks to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, also includes a coming out speech with a difference. As for the title, well it reflects a change of medium, one that forms the picture frame of this sensitive, if bittersweet tale of first love. For that is what charms you here, namely the touching relationship between a pair of mismatched, if ultimately star-crossed lovers; teenagers who by getting to know each other, get to know their homosexual self. And it is here that Oliveras scores big time.
Tye Olson, Kyle Clare, Ellie Araiza, Casey Kramer, Jeffrey Lee Woods, William C Mitchell,
Ian Rhodes, Edward Finlay and David Schroeder. Introducing: Brandon Lybrand and
featuring Greg Louganis as Coach Brown and Karen Black as Mrs Martin.