Thursday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m.
JCC Theatre, $9
At first glance, By Hook or By Crook is a cute butch buddy film that follows two lost souls on their journey to find familial love and their place in the world. But, the viewer soon loses interest as the plot turns confusing and the filmmaking becomes distracting.
Shy (Silas Howard) leaves her small town after her father dies and hitchhikes to San Francisco, where she meets Valentine (played by a very convincing Harry Dodge). The two immediately become friends, sharing their love for women and coping with their identity as gender-bending butches. The story follows the two friends as Valentine searches for her birth mother and Shy searches for love.
The plot ultimately becomes hard to follow and leaves the viewer feeling lost and confused. Shot using a digital camera, the picture is often fuzzy and too dark — at times so dark that we miss integral pieces of the storyline.
Poor cinematography, however, is replaced by superb acting. Both Howard and Dodge, who co-wrote and directed the film, give outstanding performances in their on-screen debuts. Dodge particularly gives his character depth as a confused mental patient (with voice inflections that rival Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man), while Howard keeps balance as his levelheaded buddy. Stanva Kahn also turns in a spectacular performance as Billie, Valentine’s sexy femme girlfriend. Rebel singer Joan Jett makes a cameo.
Still, great acting can’t save By Hook or By Crook, a film that tries to be deeper than the plot allows. — KF