Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2013. Serious Productions, Gloss Studio. Screenplay by Chris Mason Johnson. Cinematography by Daniel Marks. Produced by Chris Mason Johnson, Chris Martin. Music by Ceiri Torjussen. Production Design by Rollin Hunt. Costume Design by Kristen McCullough. Film Editing by Christopher Branca, Chris Mason Johnson, Adam Raponi. Independent Spirit Awards 2014.
It’s San Francisco in 1985, the place that ranks high for gay liberation in America and a time when said paradise has been turned into a town of paranoia and fear. With the now identified AIDS virus capturing headlines and terrorizing gay communities around the country (and of course the world), a newly available blood test means more fear than reassurance for anyone who feels compelled to take it. Frankie (Scott Marlowe) is an aspiring dancer whose friction with members of his troupe and uncomfortable relationship with his (presumably) straight roommate contribute to the general solitude of his daily life. When he is not lost in his thoughts of gorgeously filmed brooding, Frankie is in the studio practicing his exquisite moves in the hopes of becoming a lead player in the dance company that still has him as an apprentice, putting up with the usual stream of criticism and discouragement that young performers are subject to. What comes out of all the elements blended together gracefully by writer/director Chris Mason Johnson is a touching, elegant film about personal goals and personal fears, made that much more enjoyable by the plentitude of attractive men and even more exquisite dancing. Marlowe is terrific in the lead, as sympathetic as he is beautiful, and while the period details frequently fail to ring true (it’s obviously shot in 2013), at least there’s a consistency to the overall visual aesthetic that keeps that from being a jarring problem; you basically accept that a Walkman and dial phone is the best they can do on this budget and leave the rest of your judgments at the door.