Half a Person

3.5 stars out of five
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: June 27, 2011
CQC 679
Joined at the hip and the heart

The private knowledge that only best friends have about one another both glues the relationship together and, in certain circumstances, strains it to the breaking point.

In Adam Santangelo’s take on the subject, the “love that dare not speak its name” has less to do with sexuality than shared intimacies past, present and possibly future.

At twenty-eight and living in a plumbing-challenged basement apartment, Alex (a quiet, yet generally convincing performance from Nigel Smith who manages a couple of Michael J. Fox moments of intellectual realization) finds his life at a dead end. A meaningless job, no girlfriend (and precious little under the conquest belt thus far) combined with the smallness of Sudbury, Ontario sends him suddenly back to more familiar territory in Canada’s largest city.

One floor above are Mark (Michael Majeski has genuine fun with the “live-for-the-moment,” unemployed hunk role) and his older partner Tom (Andrew Udell). Perhaps the “boys” are too close for comfort. Mark is a constant tease to Alex who gamely tries to assert his sexual independence by dating a definitely female med student, the aftermath of which leads him to board the first bus to Toronto.

Before you can say “Me too, please,” penniless Mark joins Alex on his quest for self. During the first leg, a pair of equally searching co-eds strike up a conversation with the inseparable buds and the drama’s table is set. Julie (Taylor Trowbridge) has the hots for the blonde Friend of Dorothy, leaving Crystal (Joanna Haughton) with the challenge of working her way into the head and bed of the most distraught amongst them.

Tellingly, effectively, many of the scenes take place in or are buffered by playgrounds in both municipalities. The subliminal innocence of the play structures (hilariously revealing Mark as exceptionally well hung, but not in the way viewers of either sex might have hoped for) and their comforting surroundings is at one with the film’s overarching tone.

Those expecting some sort of orgy will have to look elsewhere. Santangelo prefers to drill down deeper into off-screen encounters (notably a flashback where the high school chums inadvertently spent the night locked up in their alma mater) and let the audience do the heavy lifting as to how close everyone actually is.

The limited sex that does make its way to the screen seems to be totally out of character, but on reflection adds another narrative twist that deftly prepares the way for the closing frames that can’t help but evoke an echo of Nobody Waved Goodbye.

Township Expansion’s guitar-rich (acoustic/electric, solo/ensemble) original music, featuring songs by his girl friday, Capital and The Art Of add much to this mix of relationship roulette.

Whether coming to terms with oneself in a bustling metropolis or “I know what you did last night” small town, a viewing of Half a Person might well contribute to the self-actualization of those still on their own journey to acceptance, understanding then peace. JWR

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