VOD Review - I Want Your Love

Ben Jasper (left) and Jesse Metzger
in "I Want Your Love" (2012)
With HBO's Looking back in production for its 2nd season, this film at times feels like it could have been two episodes in that series. It centers on a group of gay male friends in San Francisco. What distinguishes it is that it was produced by Naked Sword, a gay porn company. Therefore, it features very graphic sex scenes in that there are close-ups of an erect penis, more than one, with occasional ejaculation.

On the surface, its sex scenes would have to be described as pornographic, but the cinematography would argue otherwise. For example, the lighting here is not like a porn film. Writer-director Travis Mathews shoots his sex scenes at night, in low light and with shadows. He gives us a silhouette of a penis, whereas a porn film would have 360-degree lighting, so you could see every square-inch of that male organ.

Mathews also embraces the awkwardness of sex between real people that porn films and porn actors avoid. Mathews uses the sex scenes to convey character or reveal character that pornography doesn't do.

In porn, the sex acts are always hot and generally perfect. Here, there are people who know what they're doing and produce some amusing, ass-slapping moments with a lot of white, sticky fluid, but it's not perfect all the time. A threesome for example feels clumsy because it would be clumsy and usually no one is there to direct it. The scenes are very natural and genuine in that regard.

Ironically, this movie was inspired by a short film that Mathews made two years prior that is arguably more of a porn film than this. That 14-minute short of the same title had no character development or even much of a setup. It started and ended with two guys in bed. There's a quick negotiation, but it immediately launches into the two having sex and that's all it is. The two guys are beautiful but still.

Here, Jesse Metzger stars as Jesse, an aspiring artist who's concerned about his financial situation, so he decides to move back to Ohio. The movie occurs in the two nights prior to his leaving. The night before, his friends throw him a going-away party. Ben Jasper co-stars as Ben, an advertising copywriter who is Jesse's ex-boyfriend. He's been out of contact for a while, but he plans to attend Jesse's party, which makes both anxious.

Brontez Purnell also co-stars as a mutual friend who is the only black guy but who is way more flamboyant, loud and verbose. Once he realizes that things are over between Jesse and Ben, Brontez takes a fancy of Ben and goes after him. Keith McDonald plays Keith, an older performance artist who is Jesse's confidant and friend.

Rounding out the cast is Wayne Bumb and Ferrin Solano, as a couple who just moved in together. Wayne is a bear who's probably also into the art scene and Ferrin is an Asian twink, possibly Filippino or Southeast Asian. They seem to have issues negotiating space with Ferrin having problems with control, self-esteem and jealousy. Mathews is seemingly able to resolve these issues using sex.

Yet, for Jesse who apparently is the protagonist, Mathews uses sex or rather Jesse's lack of doing it to reveal his character. Where Mathews stumbles is he sets up all this stuff between Jesse and Ben but doesn't really pay it off.

Films that feature pornographic sex but work as better exercises of character study include Frank Ripploh's Taxi Zum Klo (1980), Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs (2005) and John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus (2006). Mathews' film comes up a bit short, but all the actors are quite good.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains full-frontal nudity and graphic sexuality.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 11 mins.


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