By Darren Grant
Benjamin Northover as Jake) and Layke Anderson (as Frank).
The Big Picture
Writer/Director: Jean-Claude Schlim
Actors: Layke Anderson, Udo Kier, Benjamin Northover, Stephen Fry
Genre: Indie, Romance, Drama
Positives: Captures convincingly the exciting new world of the 80's, both the free sex and drugs, and the emerging threat of a new disease, AIDS.
Negatives: It dwells long and graphically on the demise of the hero's lover to the extent that the protracted misery overwhelms the latter part of the film.
Format. Just released on dvd.
Rating: 4.0/5 - Raw, colourful gay drama.
The trailer created expectations of a sugary, nostalgia trip. The reality is a story that packs a much heavier punch through its evocation of the sleazy world of Amsterdam's sex industry and the looming menace seen by local doctors of gay men with no T-cells. The 80's setting comes with an inevitably dated style but the raw honesty of the story aligns it with the contemporary cinema of today.
Frank, (Layke Anderson), is a high school runaway who settles happily into the House of Boys where he struts his stuff memorably on stage and falls for Jake (Benn Northover), the club’s star dancer and favourite hustler. Once Jake has been dumped by his girlfriend, romance breaks out in a rush of sex, drugs and good times. But Jake's collapse at a concert signals the start of his decline as his AIDS symptoms emerge. Then it's a long, painful path to the inevitable end.
The film blends an old-fashioned innocence with a modern honesty. The young leads convince and the presence of Udo Kier, in and out of drag, and Stephen Fry, playing a concerned doctor, add the necessary gravitas. Overall, Schlim dwells too long and too graphically on the demise of the hero's lover. But the compelling soundtrack and the tellingly accurate evocation of the era makes this a worthwhile contribution to the gay movie genre of today.
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