Sunday, January 1, 2017

Role-playing, autonomy and owning-up in Nick Corporon's smart gay love story, RETAKE

As TrustMovies has pointed out on this blog (more than once, as he recalls), there are only two rules necessary for forging a workable love relationship: both parties involved must be autonomous and they must want that relationship. This theory is offered up once again via a very good new gay quasi-love story called RETAKE, in which an older-but-still-plenty-hunky man engages a male prostitute to play the role of the now-deceased love-of-his-life. Yes, this situation is fraught, all right, with one question immediately rearing its little head: How autonomous can these two characters really be?

The slowly unfurling answer, provided by director and co-writer, Nick Corporon (shown at left), moves back and forth with increasing equality and agility between the two men, the older (played by Tuc Watkins, shown above and below left), a wealthy and successful entrepreneur whose obsession makes him oddly vulnerable, and the younger (Devon Graye, shown above and below, right), who slowly and with surprisingly believability makes us realize that, yes, a whore can take charge of his life in certain important ways.

Retake also plays some very interesting variations on the idea of role-playing, specifically how easily and enjoyably we might take on the role we're given, run with it, and prove all too adept at the playing of it. What's the difference, after all, between doing a really good job of acting -- feeling, thinking, experiencing your character -- and simply being that person? We, and at least one of our two protagonists, will soon find out.

The movie is basically what Hollywood calls a two-hander, as just about everything revolves around our duo, with very few other characters tossed briefly into the mix. This proves just fine, as both Watkins and Graye handle their roles with enough skill and charisma to keep us hooked. There are various sex scenes throughout, though no full-frontal, but the film is more interested in need and intention than in merely turning us on. (Though it manages the latter by virtue of its two lead actors.)

As with the role-playing, the movie makes us think and feel and put ourselves into each of these men's situations surprisingly well. And the film's ending is nice surprise, too: thoughtful and caring without being sticky or sentimental. In short, Retake proves a very involving and enjoyable way to begin the new year.

From Breaking Glass Pictures and running 98 minutes, the movie hits VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, January 3, opens theatrically in Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Royal) on Friday, January 6, and arrives on DVD and Internet VOD on Tuesday, January 10.

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