›› Like It Is ‹‹

a film by Paul Oremland.

1998 | 95 mins | UK

an achingly real portrait of coming out in the squared circle.

Dave says:

This achingly real portrait of coming out in the squared circle follows the life of Craig (Steve Bell); a young man who knows that he's different from most blokes. Different in the sense that he knows deep down that he's gay, a sexuality that's hardly one to shout about when your chosen career is the squared circle and the illegal dens of bare-knuckle boxing. Not that it was on the underground boxing circuit where he met Matt (Ian Rose); rising star of the London music scene and a man who cannot wait to head back to the sophisticated bars of Soho, following a taste of Blackpool rock. Only guess who he should find outside his door a few days later, none other than his Blackpool bit of rough; namely a man desperate to escape the brutality of his life, one in which the only form of male touch is a punch to your face.

Written by Robert Gray, this powerful British drama notably took a variant approach to the perennial coming out scenario, having chosen to depict the difficulties of to thy ownself, being true, within the macho environment of competitive sport and an illegal one at that too. Yet woven in between such lies a good old-fashioned love story; that of the tale of two young men who fall in love with each other, in spite of the many problems faced by their opposing lifestyles. It's a work that notably does not shy away from depicting the reality of gay sex, nor the sheer violence of those who fight for a living with gloved hands - or as in this case, without. And the fact that such staged scenes are to the bloody core is credit to former ABA Featherweight Boxing Champion Steve Bell, who in his screen debut delivers both a boxing and acting punch as Craig. Yet whilst the fine work of both Rose and Dani Behr who excels as a singer with attitude, should not be overlooked, it's Roger Daltrey of The Who fame who steals the show, revelling in his portayal of Matts' camp and predatory boss Kelvin; a high-powered music mogul ever keen on young male flesh for both professional and personal exploitation.

The result is an uncompromising feature that takes a far more grittier approach to the coming out scenario than what we're used to and yet the story is far removed from fiction, given its central theme of a closeted bare-knuckle boxer is based on a real life encounter experienced by the director himself. Rightly acclaimed as one of the most well-crafted British gay dramas in many a year, perhaps that's of no surprise given the films' vibrant mix of raw sex and violence, love and desire and of finally being able to say it - like it is!

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› revised: Thursday, 3rd December, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

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archive reference #046 - revised
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