Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The breakdown of a problemed man in Peter Mackie Burns and Mark O'Halloran's RIALTO

One's forties is a difficult time to come out of the closet. This is hardly your coming-of-age period, after all, particularly when you've already got a life, a wife, kids, career, house and all the rest. In the case of a fellow named Colm, the leading character in RIALTO, we don't even know if he has ever realized until now that he had strong homosexual leanings. 

Colm's angry, abusive and controlling dad has recently died, leaving him maybe grief-stricken, more likely just hugely confused. His mom's bereft and needy, and Colm has now gone so far into himself that he can barely communicate with his wife or with his nearly-grown son. Only his daughter seems still close to the guy.

As well directed by Peter Mackie Burns (shown at right) with a very fine screenplay by Mark O'Halloran (Viva), Rialto places you inside the falling-apart life of Colm in such a strong and true manner that, as much as you might want him to make other choices along the way, nothing he does registers as unbelievable. Stupid maybe, but so clearly caused by anger, uncertainty and fear that you cannot help but empathize, even as you cringe. Oh, and did I mention that our "hero" is about to face unemployment, having been made redundant to his job?

As played exceedingly well by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (above, of Maze), Colm has recently found himself semi-stalking a pretty young man named Jay (Tom Glynn-Carney, shown above and below, right, of Tolkien). Though their first assignation is rather a disaster, Colm is smitten, while Jay appears to see something perhaps kinder and needier than he has found in some other clients (Jay's a part-time prostitute, you see, raising money to help take care of his girlfriend and newborn baby).

Jay offers Colm what he wants and needs -- jacking off and undressing for him, and finally giving him a good, hard ass-fucking -- yet it's clear that he cannot and will not be able to commit to Colm. (The sex scenes are graphic but not full-frontal, and there's a lovely, tender scene of Jay caring for his infant baby midway along.) Meanwhile, Colm's behavior grows more unhinged until we wonder what could finally be in store.

Because we really don't know much about Colm's background, other than dad, his death, and Colm's distancing from his wife and son, we're not in any position to figure him out on much of a psychological level. 

For some this might detract from the film's enjoyment, and god knows filmmakers Burns and O'Halloran are clearly folk who do not believe in happy endings, nor maybe even happy middles. 

Yet in terms to providing a look at a grown man's breakdown -- mental, emotional, sexual -- Rialto works quite well. From Breaking Glass Pictures and running 90 minutes, the film had its Virtual Theatrical Release last month and will hit VOD & DVD today, Tuesday, October 20 -- available via Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango, Xbox and InDemand.

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