Can porno also have interesting, deep characters? Debut director Travis Mathews says, hells yes.
This erotic miniature from James Franco acolyte, Travis Mathews, appears less as an earnest piece of filmed fiction, more an attempt to disprove the theory that pornography can't have a decent storyline and rich, conflicted characters. Jesse (Jesse Metzger) is a young, San Francisco-based performance artist who has chosen to move home to Ohio and thus sever ties with a large group of friends, lovers and sex partners.
Mathews' ambling, Cassavetes-like mode captures his actors in intimate close-up and allows them to spout impassioned and (what appears to be) semi-improvised dialogue. It's less a conventional narrative, more a collection of personal vignettes occurring over a condensed, semi-momentous period of time. Jesse's attempts to straighten out his mind are juxtaposed with the actions of his colleagues who continue to fulfil their rampant and diverse sex desires.
It's a sweet, slight movie that, while hardly a paragon of dramatic originality, executes a simple idea very effectively. And that idea is playing moments of emotional and sexual intimacy off against one another. Just as Mathews lingers on the mottled skin and faded tattoos of his subjects while they're deep in dialogue, he is similarly liberated as he photographs the numerous sexual clinches in all their censor-baiting, red-raw, spittle-flecked glory. Makes for a nice kissing cousin to Christophe Honoré's 2010 film, Man At Bath.
Director Matthews worked with James Franco on the, erm, unfortunate Cruising-based meta-movie, Interior, Leather Bar.
Showcases strong performances and a stirring sense of intimacy.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful career.