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Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 p.m.
Lincoln Theatre, $9
The first half of Gary Wicks’s stylish and ultra-violent thriller about a young, vulnerable British rent boy and the vicious mobster who keeps him, is spectacular. Steeped in malevolence, it is an unnerving tale of sexual captivity and submission.
Then a plot twist turns the film completely on its ear, leading to a second half that is so patently absurd that it just about demolishes everything that came before it. Luckily, a keen, superlative performance by Daniel Newman (who looks like Freddie Prinze, Jr., and sounds like Davy Jones) as the young prostitute, Tom, maintains our interest.
Awash in neon colors and utilizing striking camera angles, End Game is one of the festival’s slicker entries, but it has some deeper thematic problems that bring into question its inclusion in a gay festival — most notably, the fact that all the gay sex in the movie (and there is quite a bit of it) is violent and abusive, while the only instance of tenderness and caring emerges from a heterosexual encounter. What, exactly, is being said here? The movie also has lapses of common sense — for instance, why would a neighboring couple, who barely know Tom, help the boy out of a lethal jam at the risk of their own safety?
The movie might have been better has it not gone the twisty-curvy, startling-for-the-sake-of-startling route and maintained its original foray into the dark side of a gangster’s obsessive love. Flaws notwithstanding, End Game sets your nerves on edge and keeps you flinching at the most unexpected moments. — RS