Jun 12, 2017

[Movies] Those People (2015) Review

Tobie's US trip has been for quite a while and I've been using the alone time to explore the video libraries of Netflix and iflix. Both have a quirky limited assortment of LGBT related videos ranging from popular TV series to independent movie productions. And so I've been filling up the empty hours with these productions.

Those People looks like your sort of "typical" US indie fare with a rather dramatic poster and citations for various independent film festival awards as part of the promotional materials I didn't even really dig into the summaries and write-ups for the movie - I just dove right in.

As expected it was the sort of drama that took a while to setup with long moments without dialog or sometimes even without music. But it certainly had a particular story that wanted to tell, although what that was supposed to be wasn't immediately clear from the onset. But given, the movie does build up into something.

Synopsis: Those People is an American LGBT drama written and directed by Joey Kuhn. The movie won the Audience Award for Outstanding Feature Film at the 2015 NewFest: New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival, as well as the Audience Award for Best First US Dramatic Feature at the 2015 Outfest Film Festival.

Charlie (Jonathan Gordon) is an art student who remains rather infatuated with his longtime friend Sebastian (Jason Ralph). This is mainly evident in how his art projects clearly reflect Sebastian time and time again. However Sebastian strictly treats him as a friend and is lost in his own problems including complications when his wealthy father gets arrested. In order to help Sebastian work through this little crisis, Charlie ends up moving in.

Around the same time, Charlie meets an older concert pianist Tim (Haaz Sleiman). And the twobegin an intimate relationship soon enough. But Charlie's heart remains oddly devoted to Sebastian and this tears at him as he tries to balance his time between the two men of his life. And while Sebastian does react to this development to some degree, it's not like it translates him into actually professing any feelings for Charlie in any degree of significance.

What I Liked: The movie certainly has some interesting scenes and full credit to Kuhn for staging some pretty beautiful shots. He clearly put a lot of love into crafting the story of each character and he directs the lens to present everyone in the best light when he can. It borders on the movie having an almost sterile feeling at times given how polished the movie can seem at times ant it really depends on your personal preference how to take things in this regard.

The story is a complex one that has a lot of pain naturally woven in, giving the whole piece a rather somber, tragic feel to things. It's a well-crafted narrative that one can respect, even though it feels inherently sad with little to no chance of Charlie having a positive outcome.

What Could Have Been Better: The on-screen portrayal of the characters felt oddly generic to the degree that initially you can't quite tell them apart since it's all about affluent white guys who all seem rather conflicted about how to deal with their emotions. Add in the class factor that creates an odd distance between the various characters and even between the audience and the characters and it becomes harder to feel bad for any of these characters and their particular struggles.

It's hard to see why Sebastian even remotely deserves the attentions he gets from Charlie or why the audience should buy into any redeeming qualities for Sebastian as well. It's another one of those movies that feels almost forgiving of douchey characters like him and so we follow along with their depressing exchanges over and over again.

TL;DR: Those People is an interesting enough movie but one that also felt a little dry and never really hooked me in. Characters just aren't relatable and they don't necessarily stand out so the movie didn't quite have an impact on me. Thus the movie only gets 2 longing stares from Charlie directed at Sebastian out of a possible 5.


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