VOD Review - Scenes From a Gay Marriage

Matt Riddlehoover's title is reminiscent of the great Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage (1973). There have been some comments comparing Riddlehoover to Woody Allen. Those comments are perhaps a little overblown, but, being that Bergman was reportedly one of Allen's chief influences, Riddlehoover taking that title makes sense.

Yet, I would dare say that this movie bears no resemblance to Bergman's 1973 masterwork. Nor does it bear much if any resemblance to any of Allen's work. Riddlehoover is no where near the comedian or dramatist that Allen is and any approximation comes at kilometers away.

Riddlehoover does have keen awareness and a commentary on the movie business as Allen often does. The difference here is that Riddlehoover is commenting on the independent gay film market. Matt Riddlehoover plays Darren, a young man of indeterminate employment who lives at an apartment complex in Nashville whose ex-boyfriend Leigh, played by Devin Walls, is a filmmaker who moved back to Los Angeles.

In a phone conversation, Leigh critiques to Darren the difficulty in getting his movie made because it doesn't conform to the standards that indie gay films and their audiences demand. Leigh says, "God forbid you don't have a sex scene, or make them think." Leigh wants to do a drama but can't because he insists that gay film audiences demand comedy, specifically romantic comedy.

Where Riddlehoover shows self-awareness is by having Scenes From a Gay Marriage resist those standards. It's just unfortunate that he doesn't have the courage of his convictions to go all the way and really not conform. Sadly, I do feel Riddlehoover compromises a little. First, the movie does have romantic comedy. The movie doesn't have an on-screen sex scene but it does have one. It does make you think but not about much.

Bergman's work drops you right in the faces of a married, straight couple and analyzes the relationship. It breaks down multiple issues and problems, complexities and gradations. Riddlehoover's work doesn't drop you right in the faces of a married, gay couple. Darren can hear the conversations of a gay couple that live in the apartment above him via the air vents. The pieces that Darren hears and his obsession with listening aren't about letting us understand that couple. It's more about letting us understand who Darren is.

This would have been fine, but the pieces come to feel incidental and not even important or relevant. There's no joy or thrill in the mystery. It's not like Matthew Bate's Shut Up Little Man!, which is also about a guy spying on his apartment neighbor by way of listening to them through the walls. Riddlehoover wants it to resonate, but ultimately Darren's spying doesn't matter.

No, Riddlehoover doesn't depict two men having intercourse, but the sounds of which are heard. Darren hears the orgasmic sounds of his neighbors coming through the vents. At first, it's just a source of annoyance. Later, it's perhaps titilation or a source of mockery, but never is it indicative of anything relating to the couple, except that they have loud sex and a lot of which.

Riddlehoover hints at a complex relationship between the neighbors, but would rather not explore it. He does give a little bit more screen time to Carson Nicely who plays the sexiest-looking of Darren's spied neighbors but Nicely probably gets more screen time because Nicely looks very nice in a bikini. Yet, Nicely's appearance and vibe doesn't quite compare to Patrick Wilson, despite what the screenplay would have anyone say.

Riddlehoover hints at a more complex relationship between Luce, pronounced "loose," played by Thashana McQuiston, and her sex buddy who allows her to use the gym in Darren's building. Riddlehoover hints at a more complex relationship between Joe, played by Jared Allman, his 3-year-old son and divorced wife, but, instead of delving into Luce and Joe and their outside relationships, Riddlehoover locks us into Darren's apartment for the most part, which is frustrating because Darren is the least interesting of all the characters here. Darren could just be a vessel to introducing us to these other characters, but a series of introductions isn't enough.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 23 mins.
Available at http://www.mattriddlehoover.com/store/


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