Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stream a rich, intelligent, encompassing love story: David Lambert's BEYOND THE WALLS

Imagine a love story involving two interesting people, one clearly needier and less mature than the other, but both caring, attractive and overall probably quite worthwhile. Once that love blooms a bit, it is beset by the tribulations of life lived in these difficult times (weren't they always, but maybe more so now). Will our lovers surmount this? It's worth finding out, and the answer, while not all you might want or expect, is genuine, intelligent and deeply felt. Oh, yes -- and did I mention that our lovers are gay? (Shit: There went three-quarters of my readership.)

In David Lambert's (the writer/
director is pictured at left) unusual and moving Belgian/French
/Canadian film, BEYOND THE WALLS, specifics are everything, for these pave the way to our understanding and our finally being able to accept and even appre-ciate our two protatgonists: Ilir (played by Guillaume Gouix), an Albanian imigrant to France, and Paulo (Matila Malliarakis), a younger fellow involved currently with a woman but clearly more attracted to guys. How these two meet and mate provides the first perhaps third of the movie, and it seems very real, as much for the behavioral red flags that shoot up in our minds, as for the warmth and physical attraction between the men.

How caring for another person, even when one is not really very mature, can change that person is beautifully expressed via the story M. Lambert tells. The two actors give over to their characters with talent and abandon, and the events -- which, under other hands might seem over-the-top -- here come across as completely understandable and believable, given the background of our characters and the milieu in which the film takes place.

Although Beyond the Walls (Hors les murs, in its French title) is nothing like the feel-good love stories we usually get over here in our American gay films, neither is it a feel-bad movie. Rather it's a film about how relationships develop, grow and change -- depending on character and circumstance. The only other important character we must deal with is the owner/operator of a sex toy shop, with whom our two men become involved. Played quietly and very well by David Salles (above, right), this fellow completes an unusual triangle in a most satisfying way.

You can stream Beyond the Wall -- from Strand Releasing and running 99 minutes -- now, via Netflix streaming and maybe elsewhere.

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