As STRAPPED opens, "Alex", a charming, enigmatic hustler, is engaged in a trick with a nervous older male. They exchange stories about their backgrounds, although it immediately becomes clear that Alex's narratives are intentional creations. Having left the apartment, Alex becomes lost in the building. So begins a series of encounters with different residents of the apartment block, involving physical liaisons with a camp coke-fiend, a young married father, a butch old queen, and a sensitive writer. For each encounter, Alex adopts a new personality ("I go where my body takes me"), empathic with that of the person he happens to be with.
STRAPPED, the first feature-length film from writer/director Joseph Graham, proved to be a surprise. Far more reflective than the plot line suggests, the film confidently brushes up against fresh territories. Beautifully written, the dialogue is punchy and original, and the generally-unknown cast perform splendidly; in particular Ben Bonenfant (who has a Joseph Gordon-Levitt charisma) is superb as the hustler.
The film should appeal to a diverse audience, lending itself to appreciation on different levels - whether as standard entertainment romance, or as offering a rather more thoughtful meditation on identity and intimacy. For this reviewer, the film must lose a star for the hugely disappointing ending, which proved to be regressive and reactionary after the playful wonder of the possibilities that were earlier confronted. (Nevertheless, this should not dissuade, since the majority of viewers will undoubtedly appreciate the ending's triumphantly ascetic conventionality.)
Overall: well-acted and layered, with strong production values accompanied by a sympathetic musical score, STRAPPED is certain to appeal. Recommended.