Film Review: Beautiful Something

Bad gay movies never take very long to announce themselves as such, and Beautiful Something is no exception.
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A poet having a sophomore slump after the success of his first book, Brian (Brian Sheppard) tumbles out of bed and into a gay bar, where he meets a guy who says he’s straight and also that he is seeking “hot man-on-man action.” In this writer’s many, many years of being gay, I have never heard anyone actually utter those words, which are more familiarly read on the packaging of gay porn videos.

I’m not sure of the age of Beautiful Something writer-director Joseph Graham, but it would appear that he has never heard of the Internet, because all of the hook-up action in his very hook-up-heavy film takes place in gay bars, as if this were the 1990s, at the very latest. There’s a similar dated quality to everything he writes, layered over with a heavy sense of déjà vu, because we have all surely seen it all before, done better as well as just as badly.

Naturally, all the of the interconnected characters of his tired, derivative confection are artists or art-related and, what’s worse, we are subjected to their actual work, destroying any illusion of true redeeming talent on their parts. Brian’s poetry is abysmally pretentious and “literate”; his romantic obsession, Jim (Zach Ryan), is a very aspiring actor who mangles Romeo’s lines in a rehearsal scene, and Colman Domingo, with whom Jim lives, plays a renowned sculptor named Drew Tiger (I’m not making this up). When Jim, a wayward flower sick of his fawning attention, tells Drew to destroy the statue he has made of him, his ultimate, beloved muse, you desperately wish you could jump into the screen and help him.

And then there’s Bob (John Lescault), an actor’s agent who prowls the city’s hustler hangouts in his limo, and is really more actor-y than anyone else, like a modern-day Charles Laughton at his prosciutto worse. Lescault plays this noxious, venal, lecherous gasbag in a tone-deaf, spotlight-grabbing way that suggests his career has consisted of languishing in Lotusland, collecting residuals from the odd commercial or TV appearance, just waiting for a big dramatic movie role like this. The scene in a fancy restaurant wherein he ostentatiously peels off C-notes and lays them on the table to entice Jim—as one always does in public—encapsulates the contrived falseness of this entire enterprise.

What it all comes down to is a search for love on everybody’s part. The basic problem here is that, from the evidence given, its creator knows nothing about this or any other authentic human emotion. But there’s a helluva lot of anal copulation—and moaning and sweating—to suggest that gay men are indeed the eternally rutting dogs in heat their worst enemies would suggest they are.

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