Monday, October 8, 2012

The gay romantic comedy comes of age: Jonathan Lisecki's smart, svelte GAYBY

When TrustMovies looked down at his notes as the lights went up after the screening of GAYBY, he was surprised to find only six words on a page usually filled with a couple of hundred. Here they are: "nonstop witty, charming, unpushed, Alex Karpovsky!" He was initially surprised at this lack of notes but immediately realized that the reason was contained in those first two words. The dialog in this film is so funny and clever, smart and real (regarding a certain division of the gay world, at least)  -- and fast -- that he didn't want to miss even a second of it by having to take notes.

Gayby's writer and director, Jonathan Lisecki (shown at left) based this, his first full-length film, on the 12-minute short of the same name he made two years previous, and it takes the rom-com genre into territory that is decidedly gay and -- to some people's eyes, no doubt -- decidedly trans-gressive. With most straight rom-coms, the point is simply to bring, by hook or by crook, her and him together. Most gay rom-coms are con-tent to replace her with another him, but this movie is not about simple substitution.

No, no, no -- Mr. Lisecki has bigger fish to fry and a whole world to show us within these 89-minutes. The two lead characters (above) actually are a man (gay) and a woman (straight), long-time best friends, now growing older, who decide to have a baby together the old-fashioned way. Still, both are indeed looking for a romantic partner of their own sexuality, and so the movie lets us observe their workplaces, dating rituals (below), friends and co-workers.

The writer/director has a knack for splendidly witty, sophisticated (gay-centric style, at least) dialog, and his expert cast offers this up in rat-tat-tat, screwball-comedy fashion that quickly puts you on alert: Keep up or get lost. (I admit to missing some of this crack repartee, so I can't wait to see the film again -- but on DVD, where I can turn on the English subtitles so as to get every last word.)

In the leading roles, Jenn Harris (above, left) and Matthew Wilkas (above, right) capture just about everything that two long-time friends could feel about themselves, each other and the journey they've set off upon -- from the annoyance to the pain, joy, disappointment and, yeah, the boredom implicit in all this.

The filmmaker himself (above, right) takes a large role in the proceedings, and not surprisingly, handles his own dialog like a pro. For his take, alone, on what constitutes a "bear," the movie is worth seeing.

The entire cast is just fine, each member bringing something special to the proceedings. I'd mention each one by name, but truthfully, I am a little unsure, not having taken those notes, just who is who. My note to myself (top paragraph) about Alex Karpovsky (who is but one in the large and talented ensemble supporting cast) simply indicated my surprise and enjoyment at seeing Mr. Karpovsky -- Sleepwalk With Me, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Tiny Furniture, Lovers of Hate, etc. -- in yet another movie.

Gayby, from Wolfe Releasing, opens this coming Friday, October 12, in New York City at the Cinema Village and in the Los Angeles area on October 26 at Laemmle's Noho 7. A limited nationwide expansion will follow.

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