These films speak volumes about the “real” side of gay life. The first: being forced out of the closet by a “son” who desperately wants to be more than a cheap fuck; then a loving portrait of an elderly, stoic wife, standing by her man even as he is rescued by a buff hunk in a gay bathhouse.
A Place to Stay
Charlie Polinger, USA
What to do when the closet door opens wide
Imagine being an occasional drag queen in the late ‘50s (Will Beinbrink absolutely nailing the challenging role of Gordon) and your on-the-road boy toy (a fine performance and look from Paul Iacono), unexpectedly shows up at the “Place to Stay” where Gordon’s whisky-swigging wife and three precocious children are led to believe that the bold young man is their dad’s new hire—not occasional bedmate.
The tension is palpable even as the inevitable outing is predictable. But by journey’s end, the screen is awash with broken dreams based on what society expects rather than altered lives filled with obvious—if pushed away—truths. Eugene O’Neill would agree.
Here’s to a feature assignment for Polinger who manages raw understatement with consummate skill.
Set Me as a Seal Upon Thine Heart
(Simani Ke’Hotam Al Libha)
Omer Tobi, Israel
Desperately in search of Eli
An Israeli bathhouse is the unlikely setting for a touching film about love of the highest order. A very senior citizen wanders the halls of sex-right-now-don’t-bother-with-a-real-name seemingly out of his mind as his never-ending quest for Eli goes on.
Luckily, a muscled fellow prowler takes pity on the old man, first helping in the search, then easing his sudden friend back into his clothes and back out to the street. Surprisingly to some, his longstanding wife is there, waiting with stoic patience for her man—truly hoping that some joy has brought a smile to her partner’s life.
The rescuer can only look on in quiet amazement, wondering—no doubt—who on earth would ever be as understanding and caring to him.
Tobi has shown grit and determination to get at—even if difficult—truth. That speaks very well for a successful career ahead. JWR