a film by Bill Humphreys
2009 | 76 mins | US
›› Just Say Love
the power of live theatre, on film, on human attraction.
Just Say Love by Bill Humphreys If you're yearning for a night out at the theatre, but in the comfort of your own home, then look no further.

For this theatrical work showcases the story of Guy / Matthew Jaeger, an thirty-something painter whose love of art is matched by his interest in The Works of Plato. Only that’s not all he’s interested in, as he is soon to cast his eyes upon hunky carpenter Doug / Robert Mammana, a man who, well put it this way, is not adverse to Guy getting to grips with his lunchbox. Yet Doug is officially straight, up for a bit of homo hanky-panky, but nothing else. Certainly not a relationship. Unlike Guy, who is spiritually searching for the one. Only if "to love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way," then could Plato’s description of love equate to the man of Guy’s lunchtime encounters?

Staying true to his roots, here Emmy® Award winning producer and director Bill Humphreys in collaboration with playwright David J Mauriello have transferred Mauriello's contemplative work to the screen. In doing so, Humphreys’ has thankfully not taken the easy route of placing a camera in front of the original stage show, preferring instead to re-locate his cast to the vastness of Granite Media Centre's soundstage 100. The result is a remarkably up close experience of the play, literally akin to taking a front row seat to a work that premiered in July 2005, thanks largely to the late F Gary Newton and the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Players' Ring; namely a project aimed at producing original works for the stage, from writers whose voice may otherwise not be heard.

Just Say Love by Bill Humphreys Sure signs of its stage origin are everywhere, from theatrical spotlights to sets of minimalist design, but that’s all part of its charm, given here Humphreys' has triumphed in capturing the essence of live theatre, on film. A difficult tightrope to walk at the best of times and an act, no pun intended, that together with Mauriello’s thoughtful words, make this stage-to-screen adaptation stand out in an overcrowded genre, given this is a work with meaning, a questioning piece that ponders the nature of human attraction.

Suffice to say that whilst the poignant narrative addresses such, Jaeger and Mammana do not hold back on its physical side, male nudity that is done in the best artistic and here think homoerotic, taste. Yet whilst the ending may be a little too neat and tidy, it is the natural and if anything honest interactions between the two men, together with the way in which the play has been cinematically interpreted, that make this such a refreshing departure from so many gay works of late, devoid as it is of caricature, but laden with a series of telling observations as to what makes two people, become one. For is it lust or destiny; a physical desire or a spiritual bond? Indeed which is the higher form of attraction? And what happens when one party yearns for a relationship, only for the other to just want sex? True, for those not accustomed to the wonders of a two-man play, this could well make for a learning experience, a theatrical lesson that some may view as nothing more than a philosophical variant on the falling in a love with a straight man scenario, as looks of longing go head-to-head with sexual desire. And yet it is far more than that. For in a work in which the title becomes a repetitive line, Bill Humphreys has excelled at preserving the power of live theatre, on film. And gay theatre at that too. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - artistic. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 
available on DVD as part of the TLA Releasing UK catalogue 14.02.2011
cameo appearance by Bill Humphreys as Guy's Father
starring: Matthew Jaeger and Robert Mammana
official website: www.justsaylovemovie.com
see also: www.stagewrightfilms.com
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #297
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