Reel Affirmations 2005
Review by Will Doig
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/15/2005, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
THERE’S A GLUT of gay movies where the protagonist experiences some sort of magical, sexual, self-reflective, somewhat-melancholic-but-mostly-boisterous existential transformation via road-trip. The metamorphosis-by-road-trip format is overused and too easy. Remember The Adventures of Felix? A young man’s quest to find the father he’d never met and, while he’s at it, get laid along the way?
So it was with a certain degree of spite that I enjoyed Race You to the Bottom, which manages to put some new spins on the genre and is played with competence by Cole Williams (8 Simple Rules) and Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). As the two set out into the vineyards and spas of Napa Valley on assignment from a travel magazine, their best-friends-with-benefits relationship is complicated by the fact that they’re each cheating on their partners (both of them men).
Shot on location, the photography is quite beautiful and, occasionally, truly inspired — the washed-out pastels and goofy sound of the ecstasy scene when they first arrive in San Francisco is particularly great. And the story line is appropriately complex for such a plot. You can actually see yourself getting mixed up in such a situation — the bright line test for good writing. Williams’ acting is a bit ham-handed at times, but Benson consistently shines, and this, combined with an above-average script, helps the film rise above a typically hackneyed scenario.
Also playing: The 20-minute short Room Service (), a small gem that depicts with what appears to be squirmingly uncomfortable realism the tryst between a washed-up TV heartthrob-turned-hustler and the weirdo who’s hired him. Deadpan lines like, ”I’m making a documentary. It’s about me, and my life’s questionable trajectory,” and ”I can’t believe it’s you down there: Josh, from Baja Sunrise, with my penis in his mouth,” add a bit of surreal humor. If only the filmmaker hadn’t decided to end it on such a feel-good, ”I’m okay, you’re okay” note.