Cal by Christian Martin ›› Cal

a film by Christian Martin.

2013 | 79 mins | UK.

principal players: Wayne Virgo / Cal, Tom Payne / Jason, Emily Corcoran / Auntie Jane, Lucy Russell / Cath Miller, Simon Cook / Consultant, Richard Cambridge / Unemployment Officer and with Bernie Hodges as Jounalist, Phil Trope and Daniel Brocklebank as Ivan.

Adapted Synopsis: "Returning from France to Britain after receiving news that his mother is ill in hospital, Cal discovers his home city of Bristol is and like many across Europe, facing hard economic times in the fallout from the global economic crisis. Determined to make peace with his homophobic mother before her final day, Cal instead finds himself caught up in the middle of a battle between rent boy Jason and his drug dealing pimp Ivan, that is when not fending off attempts by his drunken Auntie Jane to "make him straight."

With rioting and looting almost a nightly occurrence as youth unemployment inexorably rises, the question is not so much whether Cal and Jason can survive the night together, but more can they make it out alive come the break of dawn?"

Dave says:-

As the eagerly anticipated sequel to the blistering attack on the coming out genre that is Shank, this is actually a standalone piece, with few narrative references to prior proceedings. Rather here we find writer and director Christian Martin rejoicing in a film that is as gloriously far removed from your standard boy-meets-boy scenario, as you can get. Indeed such is the realistic backbone of this feature, that not only am I reminded of the social realism style of Ken Loach, but of the highly personal works of Derek Jarman. For just as The Last of England saw Jarman ride a political high, this marks Martin's uncompromising indictment of turbulent times; from mass youth unemployment to street riots to the growing occupy movement of today, this is social unrest laid bare right in front of your eyes.

Yet this is equally the continuing story of gay boy Cal; now a young man in his early twenties, trying to make it in life, if still longing for a tender touch in a world of hard knocks. Only touches of an undesired kind are to be found coming his way courtesy of Emily Corcoran who as Cal's Auntie Jane shines as the shameless character of the piece, that of a Frankie Gallagher persona, totally immoral in her acts; from stealing from her nephew for drink and cigarettes, to disturbing attempts to sexually gratify herself on him in the middle of the night. True, Tom Payne's acting could be seen by some as at times more of a work in progress, yet there's no denying that the star turn here lies with Daniel Brocklebank. Previously seen in Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin's 2010 feature Release, namely the story of love behind bars, here Brocklebank excels as a heartless pimp with no respect for life. All of which equates to a shockingly dark feature that is as in-your-face, as it is brilliantly executed.

A rare moment of tenderness in Cal.

A rare moment of tenderness in Cal.

Thankfully there are rays of light between the various shades of blue, including some quite tender acts between the two young men, as passionate sequences of man-on-man lip-service give way to full frontal male nudity, together with one of the most poignant parting scenes that I've seen in awhile. In short, this is gay to the core filmmaking, as backed by Jack O'Dowd splendid cinematography that beautifully frames the joyous highs and bitter lows of life.

A man not to be messed with in Cal.

A man not to be messed with in Cal.

Yes, it's brutal in parts, juxtaposing street demonstrations with acts of bloody violence. But it's also an intense film that makes you stop and think outside of the cinematic box, as the theme of "just surviving life" is shown with no holds barred frankness, making this Martin's most powerful, political and downright hard-hitting feature to date, one that by its very nature is clearly not going to be to everyone's taste, given this is gay cinema with a bite, as Martin continues to push the boundaries of films for the boys in distinctively atypical directions - God bless him.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 
›› available on DVD as part of the TLA Releasing UK catalogue: 9.September.2013 / UK ‹‹
Copyright 2013 David Hall -
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