Metro Weekly

Film Review: Irving Park

Irving Park offers the safest introduction to living a radically alternative sexual lifestyle -- watching somebody else’s.

Irving Park

The four gay men sharing a home and their lives together in the boldly intimate documentary Irving Park never mention any form of the word “polyamory.” In today’s parlance, that word might best describe the arrangement between Patrick, Guy, Lynn, and Jack, but it might also be that the foursome, ages ranging from 58 to 68, would disagree. They each seem to have their own individual parameters for defining their unconventional relationship — although they do agree on who are the masters and who are the slaves.

Author Jack Rinella (The Master’s Manual), a preeminent chronicler of BDSM and leather culture, rules this roost benevolently, alongside fellow dom Lynn, a former orchestra conductor. In separate interviews, the two quasi-partners recount meeting decades earlier through an internet bulletin board. Busy Lynn was searching for a slave, and Jack, a master. But after several years, Jack took on his own sub, Patrick, and then another, Guy.

Director Panagiotis Evangelidis, aided by Araceli Lemos’ nimble editing, structures a loose but complete story from fly-on-the-wall footage of the men at home, at work, out shopping, or engaged in BDSM sessions. As Guy puts it, “Ninety percent of a kinky sexual relationship has nothing to do with kinky sex. It just has to do with getting through the day.”

It so happens that getting through the day in this household might involve kneeling and kissing master’s Nikes before stripping down and getting dinner started. The tone is as laidback and casual as the nudity, with the camera capturing a straightforward, nonjudgmental portrait of the dynamics, and mechanics, shared by these four very grown men. 

The onscreen action is sensual, but not photographed to appear particularly titillating. Irving Park reveals enough to foster an informed notion of what it means to be a master or a slave in this context, while playing out the specific drama of whether or not this four-sided master-slave setup will hold. No one delves too deeply into why any of the four prefer kink to a more vanilla sex life, but, in a solo confessional, one member of the household questions whether he’s “cut out” for this arrangement.

As a primer to the master-slave experience, Irving Park should be quite effective at persuading viewers who might also wonder whether they’d be cut out for a life of sexual submission or domination.

Irving Park is not rated, and screens virtually through the Reel Affirmations online portal starting Friday, June 19. Virtual tickets are $12, and are good for 72 hours. Visit www.reelaffirmationsfilmfestival.vhx.tv.

Shelf Wood

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André Hereford covers arts and entertainment for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at ahereford@metroweekly.com. Follow him on Twitter at @here4andre.

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