The Lost Coast
Reviewing gay-themed films can be a difficult proposition. While you want to be supportive of any film that examines some aspect of gay life, all too often they're completely mediocre affairs. They might explore gay relationships, offer a titillating look at male sexuality, explore poignant coming out stories or offer some campy-bitchy comedy, but they're rarely worth watching.
In the past few years, "Trick," "The Fluffer" and "Boy Culture" stand out as films that are both gay-themed and well-made. Add to that list Gabriel Fleming's new film, The Lost Coast, a haunting and moody film about two men -- one gay and one straight -- trying to come to terms with unresolved issues from their past.
The two protagonists are Jasper and Mark, two friends who used to mess around with each other in high school. Now, several years later, Jasper is living a straight lifestyle, engaged to a woman who's currently living overseas. Mark, a handsome and charismatic gay man who looks like Johnny Knoxville's better-looking younger brother, and continues to flirt shamelessly with Jasper.
To many gay men, the heartache of being shunned by a youthful crush who turns out to be straight -- or opts to pursue a straight lifestyle -- will be painfully familiar. To straight men who enjoyed some youthful experimentation that perhaps resulted in some lingering same-sex lust, the emotions examined here will strike a similar chord.
The young actors here are well cast and do a good job in their roles. Ian Scott McGregor plays the confused Jasper, a low-key man who spends most of the movie relating the events of the evening in a soul-bearing e-mail to his fianc?. The more fun role of Mark provides first-timer Lucas Alifano with a chance to be the handsome, sexually playful male, whom everyone would want as their boyfriend or trick. And yet poor Mark still can't quite get over his feelings for Jasper.
Lindsay Benner ("The Darwin Awards") is good as Lily. She makes it obvious that Lily has also pined for Mark since high school, but the events of the evening seem to finally convince her she needs to get out of his orbit. Chris Yule ("The Village Barbershop"), as Caleb, resembles a low-key Jack Black, along to keep some comic levity and to stoke the conflict between Mark and Jasper.
In his second film, Gabriel Fleming ("One Thousand Years") directs this evening-to-dawn saga with a sure-hand. The story is not always linear, but he keeps it on track and prevents it from getting confused or muddled. In other hands, the movie could have turned into some sort of gay horror thriller, or a lame-brained "Harold & Kumar" type saga, but he resists those urges and delivers an impressive sophomore effort on a shoestring with solid production values. Matthew Nathan David's score is particularly strong, lending just the right amount of tension, creepiness and heartbreak at the appropriate times.
"The Lost Coast" is worth catching, either on the gay and lesbian film festival circuit or at an arthouse near you.