(director/writer: Amanda Kramer; screenwriter: Noel David Taylor; cinematographer: Patrick Meade Jones; editor: Benjamin Shearn; music: Giulio Carmassi, Bryan Scary; cast: Andrea Riseborough (Suze), Harry Melling (Arthur), Karl Glusman (Teddy), Demi Moore (Maureen), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Lois), Ryan Simpkins (Dickie), Jaz Sinclair (Joanne), Dana Ashbrook (Cat), Yedoye Travis (Les), Alissa Torres (Ida); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Rob Paris, Gul Karakiz, David Silver; Music Box Films/Rivulet Films; 2022)

“An over-the-top and campy sexual thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Amanda Kramer (“Ladyworld”/”Paris Window”) has directed and co-written with Noel David Taylor a visionary ambitious film, that on the surface a fascinating subversive film. It’s an over-the-top and campy sexual thriller that plays with The West Side Story (1961) theme as if it could be a queer trip back in the days of Manhattan gangs in the 1950s. It’s richly styled as a theatrical musical.

One night, on New York’s Lower East Side, the newlywed couple, the artistic and sweet Arthur (Harry Melling) and his looking for action wife Suze (Andrea Riseborough), witness outside their apartment building a street gang called the Young Gents commit a few murders and some random acts of violence, and feel aroused by the gang’s machoism. Arthur takes a fancy to the gang’s leader Teddy (Karl Glusman), a wannabe Brando type, who digs flirting with his man Arthur. Suze is not taken by the gang even if she desires their attention. Instead she gets into fantasizing about her upstairs neighbor Maureen (Demi Moore, in a cameo), filling the screen with set pieces of her weird dreams.

The theme of the film is to uncover what it means to be a man, while it takes some bizarre jabs at society’s gender norms.

I wouldn’t see the pic if I was looking for a traditional stage musical, but for those who might want to see how queers, greasers and the dregs of society roll–this film hits so many odd buttons on how to observe masculinity, ones that hardly make sense, but might arouse the viewer’s sense of humor. It’s a film you either hate or love, as there’s probably no middle-ground here.

The performance of Andrea Riseborough, the gal wanting to be the man in the house, is a trip.

It played at the Rotterdam Film Festival..


REVIEWED ON 10/29/2022  GRADE: B