Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Long lost love reappears -- and reignites -- in Tim Kirkman's smart rom-dram, LAZY EYE


There are certain eye exercises one can do to help correct the medical condition known as lazy eye. As one of the two protagonists in Tim Kirkman's eponymously titled new movie is quick to admit, he did not do these exercises when he ought to have and so is now paying the price by having to wear trifocal glasses. There are some other important things that neither of our protagonists did when they ought to have, and these, too, will come back to haunt them in the course of this short love-affair-weekend that Mr. Kirkman, shown below, has devised.

The filmmaker, who a decade ago made one of my all-time favorite gay films, Loggerheads, tends, I think, to build his movies around life lessons. Fortunately, he is good enough at making those films entertaining, thoughtful and moving that we don't feel terribly "preached at."  Loggerheads was about parentage and commitment, among other things, while LAZY EYE offers up the idea of how important it is to be honest with oneself, as well as with others, especially concerning life's "big" questions.

The movie begins in an optometrist's office, where Dean (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, below) is asked by his doctor exactly when his symptoms seemed to worsen and if he was viewing some kind of "screen" at the time. As he considers the answer, we quickly and briefly flash back to an out-of-the-blue email Dean had received from his ex-lover, Alex (Aaron Costa Ganis, above), a fellow who disappeared from his life years before, leaving neither a reason nor even a goodbye.

Now Alex is back, and the two men, via email exchanges, decide to spend some time together at Dean's desert retreat in Joshua Tree. They fuck immediately, but that, it turns out, is the least of it. Who they were, who they are, and what they now want come quickly to the fore, and Mr. Kirkman proves very good at free-flowing dialog that quite believably gives us exposition, humor and surprise, along with a good deal of wit and charm.

Initially we spend a tad's worth of time in Deans office (he's a very successful graphic designer) and meet his best friend, Mel, played by Michaela Watkins, above, whose throw-away role could have been left out entirely, for all the space and importance it receives. It's only our twosome that counts, and the remainder of the movie revolves closely around these attractive, needy guys.

They bed, they swim, they explore the surrounding territory. But mostly they talk, and that talk unveils their needs and desires. In a way, the movie is a kind of fantasy of what if? followed by and then what? We learn a lot more about Dean than we do about Alex, who is proves little more than the fleshed-out hunk that we let get away and now suddenly have the opportunity to maybe get back. Or get back at.

Yet the performances of the two actors are so good that we willingly follow along, enjoying the visuals and the verbiage and the all-round situation. If Lazy Eye is not finally as moving and engulfing as was Loggerheads, it is certainly one of the better gay movies to hit screens this year.

From Breaking Glass Pictures and running just 87 minutes, Lazy Eye opens this Friday, November 11, in New York City at the Cinema Village and in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Music Hall 3.  Not near either location? Not to worry. The DVD hits the street this coming Tuesday, November 15 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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