Tuesday, 19 April 2016

REVIEW - CLOSET MONSTER (STEPHEN DUNN)


Give us more of what we want, and we might forget more of what we need. There's tawdry pleasure to be had in Closet Monster, in egging it on to deliver the low-art, poor-taste thrills that it can't help but court, yet can't quite conquer. Stephen Dunn's film aims for earnestness, and succeeds in spite of itself, and in debt to lead actor Connor Jessup. The film is an entirely traditional gay coming-of-age tale, the kind that's predictably populated by attractive white people, playing stock characters in stock situations. There's a commonness to it, and thus a slight vulgarity, one that could far more succinctly have excused Closet Monster's desperate adherence to convention had it been properly developed than Dunn's desire for honesty does. He lacks the vision to foster that honesty, and the nerve to foster that vulgarity, though he can't resist allowing aspects of it to permeate his film's otherwise po-faced posturing. Isabella Rossellini supplies a delightful performance, providing the imagined voice of the protagonist's pet hamster; the film burgeons with latent sexuality, never fully realised with the dedication it deserves, but often obviously there, just a taste, just a tease. And the soap opera theatrics of the storyline are well served by strong acting, actively countering the dramatic import that Dunn hopes for by cheapening it, but at least offering some stylistic solace. It's what we want, even if it's not what we need; Closet Monster only needs more of it.