An excellent film from the inimitable Bruce LaBruce, released by PPR, whose ever-expanding pedigree stable also includes other highly recommended films such as 'Krampack', 'Summer Storm', 'Close to Leo', 'Circuit' and 'You'll Get Over It'.
'Sugar' is a self-consciously poignant film, made more so by the fact that one of the two main actors, the highly-talented Andre Noble, died in an accident not long after the film was made. The essence of the plot is that Cliff (Andre Noble) goes onto the streets of Toronto to celebrate his 18th birthday, and meets street-wise hustler Butch (Brendan Fehr). Cliff is instantly captivated by the enigmatic and ostensibly self-assured Butch, and gets drawn into a downward spiral of hustling and the dark underbelly of the Toronto streets.
On one level the film could be categorised as a coming-of-age movie, though it is really more about the inexplicable emotional connections that people make, and the evolution of relationships. The central plank of 'Sugar' is certainly the dynamic relationship between Cliff and Butch, how that relationship evolves, and how it affects each party. Cliff and Butch are in many ways alter egos; confident/shy, street-wise/naïve, abandoned/from a loving family, sex as a commodity/sex as love. Perhaps this is part of what draws them together, each having something to teach the other. However this, their differences, is also what keeps their relationship under constant strain; ultimately both characters desire intimacy, but Butch's self-hatred acts as a barrier to its attainment.
'Sugar' toys with many emotions and themes - isolation, nihilism, love, hatred, betrayal and rejection - as well as containing one of the most intense male rape scenes you'll ever witness, and is in turns humorous, erotic, dark and moving. Since this is a Bruce LaBruce film, don't expect the usual 'It's ok to be gay' happy ending - but you can expect a unique story, quality acting, and an emotional and thought-provoking ride into the harsh realities of wanting something that you can never have.