The openly gay Irish writer/director JOHN BUTLER follows his charming award-winning coming out tale HANDSOME DEVILwith an intriguing movie set in Los Angeles. It’s the story of a good-looking local TV weatherman Sean (Matt Bomer) who we first meet when he is having an on screen meltdown on live TV. His very understanding producers hustle him off and insist he takes a long earned break which he reluctantly agrees to do.
Back home in one of those spectacular only-in-Hollywood homes with a view to die for two landscapers are waiting for him to take away the large potted tree that sits in the middle of his deck. It is the last remnant of his life with Carlos his Ex and he is anxious to have it removed.
However that leaves a large mark on the deck which means it will need to be repainted. So armed with a large can of paint he cruises outside the Hardware Store where there is a whole sidewalk full of labourers looking for casual work. He selects one ; a middle aged Mexican called Ernesto (ALEJANDRO PATIÑO) who can hardly speak a word of English so he and Sean have to struggle to communicate.
Even though Ernesto understands very little, Sean still insists on talking to him almost non stop. First it is about the work he needs done but then he expands the one-way conversation to give edited highlights of his life. There is something in the warmth of the older man’s smile that encourages the very lonely and somewhat confused Sean to share more and more .
The second day Sean insists that they take a break and go rowing on a local lake. He’ll pay the agreed hourly rate regardless of any work that gets done or not, and although Ernesto was initially wary of the fact that Sean is gay, he warms to him even though he has no idea what motive Sean can have. It is definitely not sexual in any way, but on the 3td day when the go off for a hike in LA’s hills there is a genuine warmness developing and an improbable friendship between these two strangers who really are totally opposites
The second part of the film sees a change in tenor as we learn why Sean is in such state and how his relationship with Carlos ended, and suddenly it all makes sense. We not only find our attitude to Sean’s seemingly odd behaviour changing to be far more compassionate, but it turns into a scenario that we can all so easily relate too.
Bomer gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as Sean but all the credit is not his alone as the chemistry with Patino as the middle aged grandfather is so pitch perfect that it gives such an authenticity to the story.
It takes time to warm to Butler’s intriguing film but when we do get engaged we can totally appreciate what a sweet wee gem it is.