DVD Review - Bad Boy Street

In Paris, France, there is an area called Rue des Mauvais Garçons, which translates to "Bad Boy Street." Paris isn't as large as London, England, but like the British capitol, Paris is built around a river. Instead of the Thames, Paris is built around the Seine River. Paris like London has roundish boundaries. The Seine in fact cuts the city into two semi-circles. The northern semi-circle is called the Right Bank and the southern semi-circle is called the Left Bank. Paris is further divided into districts. The districts start in the center of the city and then radiate outward in a clockwise fashion. Bad Boy Street is located in the 4th district or the 4th arrondissement within the Right Bank. Like Old Compton Street in London, or Christopher Street in New York City or the Castro in San Francisco, Bad Boy Street is the heart of the gay neighborhood in the French capitol, a place where you'd probably see two men kissing.

Todd Verow is a gay independent filmmaker who hails from Bangor, Maine, and who probably visited Bad Boy Street on vacation and decided it would be a great title and setting for a near chamber play. The characters in this movie do sightsee. They walk along the Rue des Mauvois Garçons, but other tourist attractions are highlighted like the Arc de Triomphe, which looks like the Washington Square Arch in Manhattan, the Champs-Élysées, the beautiful tree-lined parkway, and the Pont des Arts, the so-called lover's bridge, but for the most part the movie takes place almost entirely inside one man's apartment.

That one man is Claude, played by Yann de Monterno, an older French man who might be in his late 30s or early 40s who is an average office worker with a small, two-story apartment on or near Bad Boy Street. He likes to dance and hang out at gay clubs. One Friday night, Claude is walking home alone and he finds a young American passed out drunk on the pavement. Claude can't find a wallet with identification, so he brings the American home to sleep it off. The next morning, the American named Brad, played by Kevin Miranda, wakes up naked in Claude's bed. They didn't hook up, but after Brad reconnoiters, he immediately does have sex with Claude.

What proceeds takes a page out of Andrew Haigh's Weekend (2011). They have breakfast and start to get to know each other, but Claude's best friend Catherine, played by Florence d'Azémar, shows up. When she does, Brad hides. Claude chalks it up to Brad being shy. Brad might be closeted, but he seems open otherwise. This poses a problem because Catherine is very curious and nosey. She wants the scoop and she wants to know everything about Brad and Claude's relationship. Either as a result of Brad's shyness or Claude's own personal reticence, Claude doesn't really spill, mainly because he really doesn't know that much.

De Monterno and Miranda have crazy chemistry. Despite the fact that their two characters are total strangers, their immediate sexual connection feels genuine and real. The sex scenes aren't as graphic and explicit as some of Verow's previous movies like Deleted Scenes (2010). One is particularly intense, but, as always he's still able to capture the passion and desire and eventual love, the unspoken love between two men. Verow is helped through the emotional and literal nakedness of De Monterno and Miranda. I'm not sure if it was intentional to cast De Monterno and Miranda together or if it was an accident, but they clearly work well with one another.

De Monterno and Miranda have worked together before. Both co-starred in the 15-minute short film Consentment (2011) by writer-director Cyril Legann. It was another gay film that confined the two men to a hotel room in a Secretary (2002)-like situation where Miranda was the Maggie Gyllenhaal to De Monterno's James Spader. Verow may have seen this short film and cast those two specific actors because of it. If so, he made the right choice.

In Consentment, both men spoke French. Both men might be French citizens, but I get the sense that Miranda might be of Spanish descent. Nevertheless, in Bad Boy Street, Miranda plays an American. Both men speak English to each other. Yet, Miranda's character has an accent, which isn't truly explained, but in a small way, it plays on a problem that rises in this movie. What we learn is that an American in Paris is the current situation for Brad but for Claude, he was at one point a Parisian in America. In a bi-national relationship, one person will have to make a choice, a choice that goes to the heart of what people call home and how people define identity.

Because Verow writes, shoots, directs and edits this movie all by himself, the movie is a bit rough. Technical problems are evident, such as the sound mixing in an scene being quite awful, but like a handsome man showing up at your door with flowers and an apology, you're quick to forgive. The performances are earnest enough that you go with the simple story with a very simple ending. Yet, with one character's simple, wordless action, he says more than any long speech proclaiming or declaring one person's undying love for another. Also, Verow's appearance is probably the best director cameo all year, certainly better than Quentin Tarantino's in Django Unchained.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 20 mins.


Popular Posts