Monday, 29 October 2007
Director: Casper Andreas.
Principal cast: Jesse Archer, Charlie David, Cory Grant, Virginia Bryan.
If films were cocktails, „A Four Letter Word” would be a Pink Lady. With a cherry on top. Casper Andreas’ second long feature film is an excercise in contemporary urban gay self-defining, rich on flamboyant queer characters as well as jokes worthy of any drag queen on a mission. It is evident that the film was created by gay people, with gay people and for gay people and as such deserves credit for being consequent. Some of the most famous gay characters created on screen were played by straight actors – the entire „gay” sets of „Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, „Brokeback Mountain” and numerous other classics were, in a manner of speech, just fakes. And although I also must give credit where credit is due (they did appear convincing), I still feel somewhat cheated when I realise that all those romantic scenes must have been forced out of them and later „improved” by the film’s editors and other technically minded people. This is certainly not the case with the cast on „A Four Letter Word” – it isn’t necessary to fake their „queerness” – for queer they are!
Luke, played by the relative newcomer Jesse Archer, is a four letter word for horny. Oblivious to any other possible „fun” things in life, he spends his days working in Gayborhood, a gay sex store and his nights playing the field on the local club scene accompanied by his best friend Mace who can probably be best defined by his own words: „I can’t speak for my ass – it’s public property”. At work, his lifestyle is constantly debated by the naked yoga enthusiast and gay rights crusader Zeke who, nevertheless, is still rather fond of him. For under the shallow facade, Luke is more than just the urban gay cliché, an etiquette he certainly doesn’t want to be put on him. One night on his usual manhunt he approaches Stephen with „ph”, played by Charlie David whom many will recognise as Toby from Here! TV’s gay soap opera „Dante’s Cove”. After a brief interaction, our protagonist is labelled by his new acquaintance as just that – „a gay cliché”. This, naturally, hurts Luke who decides to show just how „extraordinary” he is, well, only to be thrown out of the club. In the meantime, „a wannabe actor but currently waiting tables” Peter has his boyfriend Derek moving in with him while his boss Marilyn, brilliantly played by Virginia Bryan, is getting married which prompts her to go amok with what at one point in the film is described as the „Bridzilla” scheme. In order to deliver herself from her alcohol addiction she also starts attending AA meetings with her sponsor Trisha who, however, has other interests at stake with regard to her. Peter and Derek are seen by Luke as a perfect couple and he is happy for Marilyn but he insists that he enjoys being the way he is – single and able to get laid anytime he fancies. This, neverthess, changes after he bumps into Stephen the second time – in the darkroom of a club. They say that opposites attract and it must have been the case here because they are both mysteriously drawn to each other and Luke subsequently attempts to introduce himself to a completely new world – that of monogamy. He knows that his lifestyle isn't sustainable forever. And he seems to have feelings for Stephen. So what can Luke do to change himself? As part of his strategy he even attends a meeting for the sexually compulsive at the local LGBT community centre which I must admit doesn’t sound too far out in a city like New York. Luke really wants things to work out between him and Stephen. But is Stephen actually the one?
„A Four Letter Word” is a romantic comedy set in New York. Still, the characters portrayed are fairly universal and recognisable. The films poses more questions than it attempts to answer. Still, the questions it poses are relevant to most urban gay men of our day and age. Romance versus sex, care versus selfishness, the ability to cohabit and compromise. At the same time, it’s a fun and witty film which should be enjoyed just like a Pink Lady. With a cherry on top.
You can watch the film's trailer here
And a special tribute to Adam Joseph who appears in the film with his song "Faggoty Attention" (that cherry on top)