DVD Review - Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots
This film feels like an extended episode of the British series Queer As Folk, which focused on three men immersed in the gay dating world of Manchester, England, with the men seen frequently roaming the famous Canal Street. Instead of Manchester, this film is set in the equally, if not more queer San Francisco, California, with the men here seen frequently roaming the famous Castro Street. That series was back in 1999. For a more contemporary reference, this film also feels like an extended episode of the HBO series Looking, which also focused on three men immersed in the gay dating world, and in the same city here, the City by the Bay.
Leo definitely isn't shy. He has no real qualms with pursuing the guy that he wants. He's just a bit nervous. The film though never allows us to see him actually in action, as Leo's efforts to come face-to-face with his mystery man are constantly thwarted or side-tracked. It makes the film less about dating and more about the search, the nebulousness between hope and heartbreak as expressed through social media and phone apps like Grindr. It makes the film more an embodiment of the typing awareness indicator for text messaging on iPhones, as symbolized with an animated ellipsis. This film is that iPhone ellipsis. Instead of embracing the culture or the experience of Grindr though, Corrêa is more critiquing or criticizing those men in question who are led by their phones, and who are constantly jumping or swiping from one thing to the next.
What's interesting is that Palazzini is the other co-writer of this film with Corrêa. They portray friends on screen. It's a question though if they're friends off screen. If so, then this film would be akin to something like Blindspotting (2018), which was written by the actors who star in it, playing buddies whose friendship is tested. The friendship in that film is tested with racism and violence. Here, the friendship is tested through sex and drugs, drilling down in what the two friends want out of their lives and for their lives.
Oscar Mansky plays Hunter, a friend to Donnie who is a personal trainer. For most of the film, he wears a checkered tank-top. He's a cool and down-to-Earth guy who just wants to dance and have drinks. He sees Leo's anxiety and tries to give him advice on how to snag the guy he wants. The wrinkle is that Hunter is straight. He hangs out, spending half the night with two gay men and in various gay bars or gay clubs. This distinguishes this film from things like Queer As Folk and Looking. It also distinguishes itself from something like Will & Grace, which perpetuates the stereotype that the only straight friends that gay men have are women. It puts it more in line with the aforementioned Queer Eye.
Mansky is also a very good-looking guy in a film that certainly isn't deficient in attractive men. This includes Brazilian YouTube star, Guilherme Zaiden who looks like a more beefcake version of the only other gay Brazilian of any fame, Rodiney Santiago (More Scenes From a Marriage and The A-List: New York). The only other actor of note here is Lucas Pagac who plays Ethan, a potential love interest to Donnie. He's adorably sweet and a presage for Leo, as well as a perfect expression of that idea of hopeful yet heartbreaking that runs like a river through this movie.
Not Rated but contains sexuality, nudity, drug use and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 18 mins.
Available on DVD and VOD on September 10.