Directed by: Bernard and Richard Shumanski Cast: Nathan Adloff, Taylor Reed Running Time: 1 hour 5 min Rating: Not rated Due Out: August 30, 2011
PLOT: A young couple try to blackmail an anti-gay advocate after learning he has been paying one of them to sleep with him.
WHO'S IT FOR? People who like low budget gay romances.
Primarily a love story, Blackmail Boys tells the story of a young couple who want to marry despite several obstacles. First they can't marry legally in Chicago (where the film is set) so they decide to head for Iowa. In order to do that, they need cash which as two young students, they don't really have. Also Sam (Adloff) works as a prostitute since his parents disowned him when he came out. The film deals with this graphically, there are a couple of full frontal shots of men masturbating that startled me. It's kind of weird tonally, how the filmmaker will shift between arty, (500) Days of Summer style lovers in bed, to more graphic shots of Sam with his clients (or sometimes the clients alone). I assume it's meant to show the degrading nature of the sex industry, but it's very awkward to move back and forth between a love story and this dark sex for cash bit.
I never developed an emotional tie to any of these characters, mainly because they don't really express much. Most of the exposition of the story is typed out by Sam on a computer screen. I found it hard to understand why Aaron was so into Sam, when he was clearly messed up. Aaron seemed very together. The film never shows you why they're in love, just that they are. Most of the characters' motives in the film work this way. Why do Sam and Aaron have to get married right now? Sam says he loves art school but then is ready to run off to Iowa? It just felt like the characters were making choices because the script says so.
That said, there were good moments. Adloff and Reed had good chemistry and seemed like they could be a couple. But I prefer films where I discover the characters' motivations based on their actions, not whatever is written on the screen.
MOVIE SCORE: 4/10