›› Retake ‹‹

a film by Nick Corporon.

2016 | 98 mins | US.

a beautifully played drama about relationships past and present.

principal players: Tuc Watkins / Jonathan, Devon Graye / the man for hire, Derek Phillips / James, Sydelle Noel / Iris,
Kit Williamson / Scotty and Andrew Asper as Brandon.

Official Synopsis:

A lonely, middle-aged man hires a male prostitute to recreate a road trip from his past.

Dave says:

Like countless features before, this is one of those films that walks the familiar cinematic ground of two strangers who meet and whose lives thereafter, will never be the same again. Only in director Nick (Last Call) Corporon's hands, this classic theme is delivered from a notably different angle, given it's not every day that the protagonist hires a male prostitute to be his companion on a road trip of a lifetime, or as in this case to the Grand Canyon. Yet like all road trip narratives, it's the journey that counts, with man of mystery Jonathan setting the ground rules to rent boy "Brandon" from day one, namely: 1) that he never asks any personal questions, 2) that he does anything he's asked to do and 3) he keeps "in character" all of the time. And that's the kicker, given Jonathan wants the hired help to role play the character - Brandon. It's an act that for the right price, he's more than happy to do, until naturally curiosity gets the better of him about who the real Bandon was and what happened to him?

Yet as poignant as the screenplay is, what really makes this film work is the wonderful interplay between leads Tuc Watkins and Devon Graye, with Watkins dare I say, ever the "straight man" of the piece; serious, somewhat sad and sticking rigidly to a strict schedule of "photographic places of times past", only for Graye as "the man for hire" to put a spanner in the works by way of his sheer love of life; be it a romantic sunset, skinny-dipping in a closed hotel pool or just dancing the night away. Frankly, it's a great double act, one that as the journey progresses, cannot help but make you wonder if the two could be becoming one? For it's in those sweet 'n' tender moments when the two are just themselves that their masks finally slip, showcasing a loving care for each other that goes well beyond the transactional nature of their almost "master / slave" relationship.

Complete with a series of picturesque, if not "tourist like" shots, together with flashback sequences of the real Brandon as the background to his character is slowly revealed, this is a film that has a lot going for it. True, Jonathan's raison d'etre is perhaps all too obvious, given and with a spoiler alert firmly in place, this is a film about all moving on from the loss of a loved one and moreover the difficulty in doing so, with Jonathan either unable or unwilling to do so, ever remembering the relationship he once had and in this case, literally re-living it, right down to using an old Polaroid camera he had in days gone by. The result is a beautifully played drama about relationships past and present and one that like life itself, is both bitter and sweet. In short, there's a lot to like here.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

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