Gay men are constantly seeking to reconcile sex, love and affection. The search is often full of misadventures, sadness, doubt and despair. Four gay men of different ages living in Philadelphia (in the United States) are no exception. Brian (Brian Sheppard) is an troubled poet who engages with multiple sex partners and often finds solace in the bottle. Drew (Colman Domingo) is an established sculptor frustrated that his younger boyfriend Jim (Zack Ryan) wants to move to a more promising New York. Meanwhile, Jim meets Bob (John Lescaut), a rich and ageing businessman driving around with his chauffeur in a limousine.
Beautiful Something is about gay men’s unrelenting search for ‘something big and profound’ (and perhaps indeed beautiful), and their inability to do so. Brian, Drew and Bob are heartbroken or sorrowful. All three are infatuated with Jim, who seems to yearn for something else, perhaps money and a glamorous career in New York. Ultimately, all four are deeply sad people. Soul-searching in sex, post-coital anger and regret are recurring themes throughout the movie, are reminders that – contrary to belief – gay relationships and sex are not always fulfilling and liberating. One character claims in the film that “love is a disease”, and seems that – by extension – so is sex.
The film also portrays obsession with wealth and fame. Bob is confidently boasting his vehicle and his success, and Jim looks indeed impressed by it. The size of the car is a perfectly acceptable substitute to the size of the penis.
American film director Joseph Graham created a film with a somber and elegant cinematography, representative of the dark feelings and experiences of its characters. Most of the dwellings have no windows, making the viewer feel trapped, just like the men in the movie. The subtle rock-electronic soundtrack is also effective. The acting is satisfactory, making the film mostly enjoyable to watch.
On the other hand, Beautiful Something has a lot of clichéd themes and devices. Gay sex is almost entirely reduced to penetration and hard pounding, with loads of saliva and no condom. The young actors are very conventionally good-looking, and do little to represent the gay world as a whole. There is nothing daring and new in the film, and yet it often feels self-conceited.
Most gay men will relate and perhaps even enjoy this film, but it has little appeal to other viewers, such as women and straight men. Beautiful Something was presented as part of the 30th BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival, which DMovies is covering live. You can find out more information by clicking here.