The Art Of Being Straight

The Art Of Being Straight


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Naturally, with a title like this, Jesse Rosen’s film is about being gay. Or not. Or maybe.

Jon (Rosen) is a passive pretty boy from New York, freshly arrived in L.A, who is seduced by Paul (Johnny Ray), his fortysomething ad agency boss, while living with a bunch of testosterone pumped, chick addicted blokey blokes. His best friend is Maddy (Rachel Castillo), who once went to school with him in Boston and now flirts with a dumb blonde.

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Because this is California, or because these kids are in their early twenties, sex is as thick as smog in the air. Jon is a ditherer. He’s embarrassed to think he might be queer. “Don’t say that like it’s a disease,” Maddy scolds, adding, “Did you like it?” Under the tutorage of such a cool character as Paul, there is little doubt that he’ll be back for second helpings. But what will his friends think?

The trouble with Jon is that he cannot make up his mind. As a result, he’s like a duckling too close to the river bank. Maddy, on the other hand, smokes dope, hates her job in a poncy art galley and finds existence a sick joke, which only emphasises the lack of humour amongst these sexual droids. Maddy is the exception. She’s neurotic, difficult, demanding and real. If only the movie had been about her.

There is no doubt that Rosen has captured that moment in a young man’s life when he crosses a line that will change him forever and he doesn’t know what to do. Sodomy amongst heteros has implications of the dark side, too scary to contemplate.

Made on a shoe – they couldn’t afford string – the film is shot with absolutely no frills. Rosen is tasteful when it comes to sex and cannot be accused of arthouse porn. This is about feelings and uncertainty, without conclusions or romantic revelations.

“Why?” Maddy asks.

“I don’t know why,” Jon says.

After sitting through an hour and 10 minutes, you won’t know why either.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2009
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The Art Of Being Straight packshot
Questioning sexuality in L.A.
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Director: Jesse Rosen

Writer: Jesse Rosen

Starring: Jesse Rosen, Rachel Castillo, Johnny Ray

Year: 2008

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: US


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