Have you ever fallen in love with an image—an image you want to adore and believe in but know—somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind—that you are only fooling yourself?
Meet Brad. In his early 40s, the call centre worker is perpetually weighed down by the death of his young son in the family pool many years ago. Even as he struggles with that horrific loss, his long-repressed sexuality demands attention, expression and, hopefully, some action.
With his wife out of viewing and earshot range, Brad summons his courage and—only lying about “shoe size” and actual age—uploads his profile to a gay men’s dating site then waits for the avalanche of replies to fill his mailbox then satiate his lust and desires. But the silence is deadening until the otherwise mild-mannered man shifts his address from Schenectady, New York to Kingston, Jamaica and bumps up his “looking for” description to leave no doubt that this Daddy would be glad to have a full-service son.
Then, before you can say, “Bob Marley”, Brad is presented with a veritable buffet of nubile, young, black Jamaicans—many of whom wear little more than a smile in their profile’s main pic. From amongst those emerges the radiant, somewhat impish grin of Yenny; sparks begin to fly from their first time in the chatroom.
In this virtual two-hander, director-writer John Young has done a superb job, capturing the hopes, fears, requests for help interspersed with “show me and I’ll show you” to the point of mutual release without either man ever being close enough to hold hands. The skillful use of texting as the relationship develops then heats up, gives viewers exactly the same amount of information and insights as Daddy-Bard and “little Jamaican pussy boy” son share. Once together for cam chats, their voices are heard and expressions seen more fully.
Young artfully employs the same “silence first” technique in laying out the backstory of the tragic death of Benjamin (Ashton Randle boyishly innocent in the brief role), describing Brad’s work life and present-day connection with his stoic wife (De’Arde Aziza provides just the right touch of patient comfort).
Of course, like so many things on the Internet, there are enough lies between the pair to fill a Trump campaign speech; yet there are just enough honest moments and real passion to forgive, forget and discover—if just possibly—that this May-December coupling might actually have a chance.
Playing Brad, Anthony Rapp delivers a bravura performance that is at its best when painful memories swirl or the various truths he attempts to push away demand to be heard. As Yenny, Jimmy Brooks gives his future career a huge boost by endearing himself to all comers and—when circumstances come to a near-deadly head—espouses his pent-up rage with searing conviction that goes a long way to explaining just why online dating can is so often used as a worldwide revenge fuck for those who feel abandoned, left out, or mocked.
The mallet-rich, steel drum-infused, guitar and piano-centric original score from Kenneth Lampl and Darren Tate keep everything flowing steadily forward along with reggae songs which leave no doubt where Yenny lives.
A viewing is highly recommended: decide for yourself whether lies can conquer all or just how much of a bwoy Yenny might be. JWR