Wednesday, 18 November 2015


These are baby steps, salacious little baby steps. Before I let cynicism and insensitivity get the better of this review, let me state this: Chemsex is a mediocre documentary. It exposes a secret within the sadder corners of London's LGBT+ community, or one that's been spun into a secret - the issues here are the misuse of drugs and the fucked-up perceptions of sexuality fostered in gay men from a very early age. Chemsex is the warped, wishful interpretation of that, a problem undeniable due to the intimacy of this doc, facilitated by the filmmakers' extensive access, and subscribed to by it too. Outcasts who have experienced varying levels of acceptance in society throughout their lives present a confused picture of reality, and directors William Fairman and Max Gogarty buy into this distortion for cinematic purposes, spinning salacity out of sadness in refuting the former and overemphasising the latter. Chemsex is deadly serious, and rightly so, but to the point of melodrama; this issue requires a more concentrated, constructive approach, rather than subdued sensationalism. Fairman and Gogarty style these stories as subjects worthy of documentary coverage by adhering to standard documentary style - a film reliant on its content to be groundbreaking, to overcome the conventionality in its direction, and this content just doesn't cut it. Even the least perceptive of viewers should hopefully pick up on the dubiousness of some of Fairman and Gogarty's interviewees - their instability, their bias, their sheer eagerness to contribute on camera - but they do discover some truly touching tales, which momentarily elevate Chemsex a little closer to the film it wishes to be. But those are only baby steps.