The intentions of filmmaker-thesps Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave’s “Straightman” are painfully far from the onscreen results, resulting in a mumbling, fumbling exercise in ultra-low-budget theatrics. Positing a tale of male buddies, one of whom steps ever so gingerly out of the closet, and how friendship can transcend latent homophobia, pic takes crackerjack topic and manages to make it uninteresting. After appearances at Berlin market and L.A. Indie fest, buddy movie will continue its tour but won’t make pals with distribs.
Part of the unpromising indie trend of sloppily made, overly improvised dramas made with total lack of rigor, “Straightman” takes its own time developing the relationship between Jack (Redgrave), a working-class guy who’s clearly unhappy with his female lovers, and David (Berkowitz), who manages a Chicago comedy club and has his own women problems. Jack’s change of sexual direction would seem to be a terrific catalyst for a comic-dramatic look at male responses to love, but the most that happens are some meandering dialogues between the guys. Muddy sound and uneven d.p. work in 16mm render some scenes nearly inexplicable.