Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Gus van Sant’s first movie is about a young gay man’s love for a wild Mexican boy, a teenager who says he is 18 but is more like 16, just emerging into manhood. I can so feel with this story; I think it’s an essential gay experience. It is a play between love and sexual attraction where sex comes to be truly a longing of the heart for closeness. From this boy comes a stream of raw life-energy that elicits a response of tenderness and protective love. It is, at the high point of the movie, a playful open banter about sexual favors. The actual sex is with the boy's friend, who is more accommodating but will accept it only in the dark. And the dark prevails; shot in black and white, it seems to be 80% black and 20% white, which makes it hard to see what’s happening. On the other hand it’s not difficult to follow the story and the way the images flow is full of beauty, sometimes made more magical because it is exposed only in glimpses. It had the feeling of an intimate documentary, more raw reality than I remember from his other films.
Apart from a few moments of frustration when the dark took over and there was a series of movements that I didn’t get, I liked the wholeness of Gus van Sant’s vision and his concept of filming a story so in the face of emotions flashing. Shot in Portland, Oregon, in 1985 it was also a courageous issue to take up at that time.
The pictures are of Doug Cooeyate, the Mexican boy.