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Sunday, February 15, 2015

CLAPHAM JUNCTION (2007)

(SPOILERS all over the place.) This gay-themed British film opens with a ‘reading of the banns’ wedding reception for Bachelor #1 and Bachelor #2, capped by a mighty blast from Saint-Saëns’ ‘Organ’ Symphony on the soundtrack. (Oh, those classy Brits.) Soon, Bachelor #1 is off for a quickie with a cute wait-staff boy, slipping his wedding ring to the hot lad so he’ll have to call back. But no!, our socializing hottie hits a gay club, just missing a hook up with a looker who turns out to be a vicious psychopath. (Mother issues, natch). But kismet calls when a gang of homophobic toughs beat the shit out of the lad, leaving him half dead for Mr. Psycho to stumble upon after he’s clobbered someone else! He doesn’t want to help the boy, he wants to help himself . . . to that wandering wedding ring that's lying on the grass. But wouldn’t you know it, bad karma hits Mr Psycho when a new hook up gives him a thrashing. So, it’s off to hospital where he’s tenderly tended to by (wait for it) Bachelor #2! Yep, our jilted newlywed is the Emergency Room doc. And what a lot of questions spring to mind when he spots his new husband’s ring, so casually used as bait, on a bloodied boy toy. Multiply these contrived coincidences by a dozen or so characters (mostly gay or on the ‘low-down’), toss in some unsympathetic wives and, for a smidgen of starry-eyed solace, budding young love between a virgin teen & a 30 yr-old gay neighbor for statutory rape/romance to complete this 'inspired by true events' Clapham Claptrap. Scripter Kevin Elyot, who’d soon adapt CHRISTOPHER (Isherwood) AND HIS KIND/’11, must have been trying for KEVIN AND HIS KIND here. Filmed like a Masterpiece Mystery episode by Adrian Shergold (but with lots of annoying fisheye reverse tracking), the film is pointlessly bookended by a delicate young black violin prodigy who’s also attacked as an outsider in his community. How the likes of Rupert Graves & James Wilby got pulled into this is the real unanswered question.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For the sort of morally ambiguous, sexually frank Queer Cinema this is aiming at, try Alain Guiraudie’s L’INCONNU DU LAC (STRANGER BY THE LAKE)/’13. Mesmerizing & unsettling in equal measure, and with real cinematic personality.

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