For his feature film debut Nick Corporon chose to co-write and direct a road movie with a difference. True having a lonely middle-aged gay man pay for the services of a young hustler to accompany him is hardly new, but the journey they undertake together makes this intriguing resourceful wee drama a very suspenseful edgy thriller.
When Jonathan (Tuc Watkins) picks a nameless rent boy off the streets of San Francisco, he senses that they may have some sort of connection and he hires him for the next few days to travel with him to the Grand Canyon. He offers to pay him well on the condition that he roleplays with him, follows every single instruction, and never asks any personal questions in return.
With Jonathan insisting in providing him with some very particular dated clothes to wear, and recording the whole journey on a vintage Polaroid camera, it actually doesn’t take too long for ‘Brandon’ (Devon Graye) to start to piece some of the parts of the puzzle together He realizes that his benefactor is simply trying to relive a past relationship/romance, but it just takes him a little bit longer to work out why. There is always this overwhelming feeling that once the mystery that will be uncovered, it will include some crime and/or death which adds a whole frisson to the piece.
Beyond the sexual chemistry which is present from their very first meeting, the two men very soon develop feelings beyond the roles that they are playing, despite the fact that Jonathan seems to do his best to resist the younger man’s charm. Both men are baring the scars of their own past hurts which are revealed in some of the temper tantrums they both have when things are are not panning out as perfect as Jonathan has planned.
As the journey draws to its end, in more ways than one, Corpororn lets the sentimentality overwhelm the mystery aspect which makes for the one disappointment in what is an otherwise a refreshing wee gem of a movie. Much of the credit should rightly go to his two talented and rather stunning lead actors Watkins and Graye who give such impressively compelling performances as the two lost lonely souls who keep fighting the urge to clink to each other.
Kudos though to Corporon for this imaginative approach of one man trying to deal with an inevitable loss of his May/December relationship that was obviously doomed from the start, but one that he simply cannot move on from. Until that is, he learns how to finally enjoy the present.
“Retake” will be shown Saturday November 5 at 9:15 p.m. at Third Street Cinema in Santa Rosa as part of Outwatch – Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival. For more information and tickets, go to www.outwatchfilmfest.com.