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Judas Kiss [DVD]
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A truly original gay feature, Judas Kiss mixes fantasy and reality with verve. Film festival judge Zachary s handsome one-night-stand turns out to be a student competing for a scholarship Zach must award. Failed filmmaker Zach sees more than coincidental similarities between his and Danny s lives. As the young student verges on following the same path as Zach, beginning with choosing wealthy Shane over Chris the guy he truly loves, Zach decides he can mend his life by pushing Danny in the right direction. Starring Charlie David (Dante s Cove, Mulligans, A Four Letter Word), Brent Corrigan (Another Gay Sequel, The Big Gay Musical) and Richard Harmon (The Killing), award-winning Judas Kiss is a fresh, entertaining and intelligent drama.
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The film plays on the idea of a "second chance". It asks us all to question whether or not you would go back and change something in your life. The story is compelling from start to end; it twists and turns along the uncomfortable line of audience viewing. It's beautifully written; the story is about characters that happen to be gay, and not gay characters. A refreshing change from a lot of Queer Cinema. It's about the people's circumstance, not their sexuality.
The story centres on failed filmmaker Zachary Wells, whose more successful friend Topher is invited to judge a film competition at their old High School. Topher can't make it and so Zach is sent instead, and so begins a journey of self-discovery. This isn't a coming of age film, although there are elements of that within the storyline. Zach meets Danny, one of the filmmakers entering the competition, and soon finds out that his life will never be the same again. Literally. Will this trip be the key to Zach's future? Given this `second chance' will he take it?
Charlie David plays Zachary Wells perfectly. His imperfections and indiscretions are underplayed brilliantly. He is a complex character and David allows the audience to engage with him, sympathise with and understand him. Wells is ultimately the protagonist in the film, but as a character he is there to represent the audience. He is asking the questions we want the answers to; David carries this performance through the film incredibly well.
Richard Harmon as Danny Reyes is buoyant, cocky and at times vulnerable and moving. The character exudes confidence but through the characterisation of Harmon we are able to see the torment that tortures Danny on a daily basis. Richard Harmon plays such a complicated character with such ease and brilliance; his performance alone is worth watching.
The supporting cast including, Timo Descamps, Julia Morizawa & Laura Kenny all do a fantastic job of keeping the momentum and pathos within this rollercoaster journey of a story. The stand out performance though, must go to Sean Paul Lockhart. The subtle and delicate way in which he portrays Chris Wachowsky is stunning. His performance is so understated and yet, at times, you feel the torment in his characters voice.
The cinematography of the film is beautiful; the long drifting establishing shots set the scenes perfectly. It's not without it's faults though, as I would rather not have to see bad CGI in places. That aside I would say the film is shot how it ought to be, it feels real.
Overall, Judas Kiss is a great watch. It's thought a thought-provoking piece with a real pathos and charm. The performances by the cast are nothing short of stunning, in most cases. The film has heart and I can see it being part of my `talking points' for a long time to come.
'Judas Kiss' aims high, but fails to live up to its ambitions. A fantasy (self-pitying failed film maker is inexplicably given the chance to rewrite his own history in the here and now), it has plot devices that rain down like grand pianos in a silent comedy, a lot of unsubtle acting (especially from an angsty, unsympathetic Charlie David, who kinda quivers and glowers throughout the movie to show that he's emoting) and a script and direction which is so worried about the audience missing the clues that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g gets spelled out really carefully. Along with some clunky editing, erratic pacing and a woefully miscast Timo Descamps as an American rich kid I found this quite hard to sit through.
It wasn't entirely bad. Richard Harmon looks great, kisses guys with enthusiasm and plays his part pretty well, and Sean Paul Lockhart is surprisingly sweet and believable as the true-love-in-waiting-and-hoping.
All in all, not dreadful, but not very good either.
But not this one, i watched it all without stopping and for me, that is very rare.
Amazing film and one I will be watching over and over and over and over again!
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