Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Netflix streaming don't-miss: Shergold/ Elyot's gay-themed CLAPHAM JUNCTION

Prior to watching it, TrustMovies had never heard of the 2007, made-for-British-TV movie -- CLAPHAM JUNCTION -- which was, according to info found on the IMDB, presented as the centerpiece drama in the UK's Channel 4, 40th anniversary season dedicated to the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales. Watching this riveting film, it may be difficult for US audiences to believe it was shown on television (at least as seen in this 99-minute version that Netflix is currently streaming) because it is stronger, bolder and infinitely more "adult" (in a couple of meanings of that word) than most of what we've seen in theaters over the past decade, let alone on American television.

The film, written by Kevin Elyot and directed by Adrian Shergold, shown at left), links the lives of a group of Londoners -- adults and youngsters, gay and straight, out and closeted -- around the 2005 gay-bashing murder of a young man named Jody Dobrowski (in the film called Alfie Cartwright and played with exceptional charm and intelligence by the beautiful David Leon, shown at bottom, right), who was beaten to death and left literally unrecognizable except via his fingerprints. Dobrowski may be something like the British equivalent of our own Matthew ShepardClapham Junction, a narrative film said to have been inspired by the death of this young man, is in any case every bit as powerful, thought-provoking and exceptionally acted as any of the iterations of The Laramie Project that I have seen.

The film covers only a day and then that evening, night and into the following day in the lives of a dozen or more characters, each of which is brought to fine, specific life by a large and exceptionally talented ensemble. The major characters includes a husband and husband (Stuart Bunce, right, and Richard Lintern, left) whose wedding takes place that day;

a very fit young man (Paul Nicholls, above), who loves his "gram" but hates his mom (and certain other types of people);

a student (Luke Treadaway, above), nearly 15, who has the hots for a very hot neighbor (the ravishing and quite versatile Joseph Mawle (below) whom he watches, Rear Window-style from across the courtyard and also notices with some regularity in the local public library;

a gay writer who is "out" and about, played by the always pungent and pleasurable Rupert Graves, below,

reuniting with James Wilby, below (they both starred in Maurice some twenty-five years ago), who here plays a married-and-closeted ophthalmologist who manages to meet for the first time the character played by Graves twice in one day.

The evening's event, in addition to the gay bashing, is a dinner party at which several couples and a single "single" show up and engage in conversation that mirrors much of what we have seen and will see.

The most resonant (for me) relationship in the film is that of the young student and his neighbor, which gives us adolescent sexuality at its peak, straining like crazy to find an outlet. The sex scene here is riveting and utterly real -- as hot as anything you'll encounter, straight or gay, in any movie. It works on so many levels for both the characters and the viewers that it should leave a rather profound mark in terms of better understanding, and then rethinking, of what some might call pedophilia. TrustMovies says this because he absolutely was that young kid when he himself was 15 and struggling hard with his homosexuality and finding no outlets whatsoever except older men.

The movie is framed by yet another set of characters: a young black music student and his teacher. Both see from the music studio window his "mates" in the street who clearly disapprove of the boy's practicing something so "pansy" as music. We don't even know that this boy is gay, for Christ's sake, but his schoolmates are ready to equate art with fruit -- and not in the manner of someone doing a still life. How this framing scenario plays out gives Clapham Junction a finale that combines symbolism and sorrow in one great, surprising and moving image. You must see this film.

You can find the movie, released here by here! films and Regent Releasing, as mentioned earlier, via Netflix, on both DVD and streaming, and perhaps elsewhere, too.

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