Brad Fraser’s adaptation of his hit play Poor Superman to the big screen is too true to the original and, except for the final
fifteen minutes, fails to capture the pace, tone and chemistry of its snappy,
Book-ended by the sound of CN trains first arriving then
departing Winnipeg (where, apparently, there’s never a second of inclement
weather) the production fails to get on track in the early going.
But the eye candy has something for all tastes, as David
(Troy Ruptash, a nickel short of being the savvy “artiste”) trying to bare his
soul on canvas (wearing only sport boxers that double as brush rags) decides
to clear his creative block by working as a waiter for the beautifully muscled
Matt (Vincent Corazza seems more puzzled than perplexed) and his
doll-collecting wife, Violet (the marvellously sculpted Cherilee Taylor,
starting off as Matt’s faithful top before his sexual guilt drives him to flip
her over), at the Main Street Café.
Before you can say “Love ya,” “Mean it,” David’s
up-scaled the diner’s presentation, seasonings and napkins, while earning
Violet’s admiration and raising Matt’s latent desires. (“I’m not gay, just
that one time at the end of High School with my best friend.”)
To balance the comings and goings of this unlikely trio,
Fraser has created two memorable characters, both friends of David: Kryla
(played with panache by Lynda Boyd) is a newspaper columnist and family
confessor whose failed relationships are sent with regularity to booze-rich
oblivion; desperate to become the woman that is trapped in her male frame,
Shannon (Thom Allison, easily stealing the show) is thwarted from her
transgender surgery by the steadily increasing complications of her HIV drug
regimen. Brilliant: Two troubled souls, both dependent on cocktails.
With comic books and their super heroes providing the
metaphors (Superman must tell Lois the truth if they are too marry) and
Fraser’s social commentaries still hitting their targets (“Is there less AIDS
than before?” “No, you just read about it less.” Or, in one of the tastefully done
bed scenes “I haven’t imagined fucking you.” “I shouldn’t be punished for your lack of imagination.”), it became a disappointment that this version couldn’t
get into high gear.
But just when it looked like a bust, the magic finally
appeared. Looking angelic in his bath house towel (cross-reference below for a much earlier heavenly host), Daniel Cinclette’s camera and Earl Fudger’s spot-on
editing combined to serve up a stunning juxtaposition of the too-many names
inscribed on David’s personal AIDS memorial and their ghostly bodies moving in
and out of the steam where many of those infections might have occurred. Extraordinary.
Then, having decided her own final path, the seamless transition from Shannon’s body sheet being lowered to David’s stunning nudes (one with just a hint of cape!) of Matt being unveiled,
demonstrated conclusively that Fraser is aware of what film can do what the
“boards” never will.
It’s time for an original screenplay so that his considerable talent and imagination can use the medium to its fullest. JWR