Unsolved Suburbia

4 stars out of five
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: September 27, 2010
Stylishly told secrets revealed in glorious black-and-white

Director Cheetah Gonzalez (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Huntington) has come up with a tasty little Queer Noir film (clocking in at 66 minutes, the time slips by with seldom a dull moment) that, er, probes sex, lies and threesomes with gay abandon.

Using black-and-white judiciously (cinematographer/editor Steven Vasquez has done a fine job with his teasing shots and carefully managed cuts as the largely-young cast slips in and out of beds and underwear) and a voice-over from the principal detective/fornicator (Johnny Lockhart as Marty brings just the right tone of insider and pragmatic lover, keeping the action moving steadily forward), the production delights the eye from opening sequence through final dénouement.

The music is at one with the action: saucy winds underscore the seemingly endless number of couplings from a teacher-student romp (unconsummated due to an equipment failure …) to bisexual, double-your-options bliss; a baroque oboe concerto is a wonderful aural backdrop for the interplay between a wide-open mob girl and the equal-opportunity hit men; Tchaikovsky-like plucked strings and celeste are the perfect accompaniment to the covey of Sugar Plum Fairies as they band together to defeat the deadly menace of homophobic relatives.

The storyline features a peeping-Tom-for-hire (Steven Christopher swishes through the role with the gayest of ease—unable to hit a single pin with a full-size, red bowling ball is a hilarious metaphor) whose stolen glances ensure no one’s predilections or partners remain on the “down low” for long. Under scrutiny are Marty, girlfriend Anybodys (Georgia Visser looks great but is the weak link in the acting department), boyfriend Michael (Kiyoshi Shishido delights the camera with only his chauvinistic stance on infidelity, “I’m a guy” ringing falsely with his character) as well as smitten-couple Eddie (David Blanco) and Thomas (Alexander Dissan) whose elder brothers take a dim view of their siblings’ fervid attachment.

Gonzalez keeps his charges jumping through their relationship hoops with an admirable flair for knowing just how much skin to show, sex to have and when to offer viewer-assists during the non-linear narrative.

Unsolved Suburbia is highly recommended as the first feature for a double bill that concludes with a more serious affair. JWR

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