Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Yan England's GLBT movie -- 1:54 -- explores the question of coming out vs being outed

Yan England's first full-length feature -- the actor-turned-filmmaker, shown below, both wrote and directed 1:54 -- has as its leading character a young fellow who, though cute enough to look at, is anything but an attractive guy personality- or character-wise. Though pretty obviously gay, as an early scene between him and his best friend around an outside fire makes clear, when that friend gets outed at school, our non-hero not only does not take his friend's side but instead renounces him and his gay status.

This very problemed fellow is played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon (shown on poster, above, and below), who made his mark in Xavier Dolan's semi-moving camp fest Mommy and is a good-looking and usually capable performer, but with a perhaps rather limited range. In this film Pilon has either chosen or been directed to remain fairly one-note in terms of facial expression (as the stills here reveal) -- which, while it may very well be the right accompaniment to his closeted, unhappy and severely limited character, still has one wishing for more.

For all the GLBT movies we currently have gracing (or thudding into) our theaters and home video, being gay or lesbian within one's school venue seems not a whole lot easier to deal with now than it was in my day. It is simply more talked about and maybe perceived as somewhat closer to (but still one hell of a long way from) that so-wished-for but probably non-existent condition known as "normal."

In any case, our would-be hero, Tim, enjoys chemistry class and is very good at track, but is still recovering from the untimely death of his mom, as well as constantly struggling with his sexuality. His peers, with the exception of a single friendly girl (Sophie Nélisse, above, left, of the wonderful film, Monsieur Lazhar), are little help and mostly hindrance. His nemesis -- another track team member, played by just the right degree of ferocious stupidty by Lou-Pascal Tremblay, below, right -- makes everything particularly dire and difficult.

And so, as events pile up -- including suicide, pretending to be straight, a return to running for the track team, a drunken sexual encounter, blackmail and a whole lot worse -- the movie, which has been fairly sure-footed for awhile, eventually then all too quickly descends into melodrama, even as our Tim goes from not-so-hot to a whole lot worse.

1:54 (which is the record time that our would-be track star must break) can most easily and understandably be seen as a kind of cautionary tale. I just wish that it had been a better one. In it, family, faculty, administration, coaches, peers all fail our boy. And he himself simply does not have the strength or stamina to see much of anything through on his own, which makes rooting for him a bit difficult. Until he decides to finally do something, which then makes that rooting utterly impossible.

You may be able to manage this move better than did TrustMovies, and you'll have your chance to find out in Los Angeles, when the film -- from Breaking Glass Pictures -- opens theatrically this Friday, March 9, at the Laemmle Music Hall 3. It will then hit home video (via DVD and VOD) the following week on Tuesday, March 13, for purchase or rental.

No comments: