A gay young boxer from the North finds love and disillusionment in trendy London in “Like It Is,” a respectable lowbudgeter from first-time director Paul Oremland that mostly steers a refreshing middle path between gaucheness and grandstanding. Though the story is hardly original, natural perfs and smooth production values help to bolster the slim pic, which has been ticking over on one London screen since mid-April following its preem at the London Lesbian & Gay fest the month prior.
Craig (British amateur featherweight champ Steve Bell) is an introverted guy who scrapes a living in illegal bare-knuckle fights inbetween mooning around his home town, Blackpool, and spatting with his brother (Christopher Hargreaves). He knows he doesn’t like girls but has yet to discover men — until he meets record producer Matt (Ian Rose), up North to promote sexpot club singer Paula (Dani Behr). Matt and Craig’s coitus is suddenly interruptus when the latter has second thoughts, but Matt extends an open invitation to the kid if he’s ever down south.
Craig takes Matt at his word and turns up on his doorstep one day in London, and soon the two are a pair — much to the growing discomfort of Paula, who lodges platonically in Matt’s house and feels he’s being sidetracked from developing her career. A further fly in the ointment is Matt’s predatory gay boss, Kelvin (Roger Daltrey), who tries to split up the couple and promises Matt a management job at a new club he’s opening. Matt’s philandering tendencies also strain his relationship with the naive northerner.
The movie’s biggest plus is the complete naturalness in the way gay relationships are depicted, sans the usual angst and mostly without any preachiness. Occasionally, Robert Gray’s script falls off the wagon — as in a scene of gay-baiting in a bar — but generally the story is played lightly and with good humor. Rose is fine as the assured Soho-ite, and newcomer Bell gives a good showing as the shy but steely Blackpooler. Behr, a well-known tabloid personality in Blighty, adds color as the temperamental club diva, and veteran Daltrey, overacting just a tad, has some good-natured fun as the ruthless diskery exec. Pic is pretty light on substance, and doesn’t plumb any depths, but overall is an OK time-passer.