Review: ‘Life In A Box’

Goofy, gay country music duo Y'all are the ostensible subject of "Life in a Box," which at first glance looks like a glorified promo piece in the guise of a tour diary. Halfway through, though, docu gets more interesting as fissures in the seemingly blithe domestic menage become apparent, finally ending the act's decade-long career.

Goofy, gay country music duo Y’all are the ostensible subject of “Life in a Box,” which at first glance looks like a glorified promo piece in the guise of a tour diary. Halfway through, though, docu gets more interesting as fissures in the seemingly blithe domestic menage (enlarged by an additional travel/life-mate they acquire on the road) become apparent, finally ending the act’s decade-long career. Modest effort shot by the three principals should attract gay fest programmers before hitting the home market.

Honey-voiced Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer (who also directs) and dress-wearing Jay Byrd have already spent some years as a couple and as a singer-songwriting team as the pic commences. But their dreams of world domination have been frustrated, despite nonstop touring, a loyal fanbase, several self-produced CDs, and plans for a TV variety show so completely worked-out they’ve already recorded its soundtrack. Duo’s largely jokey songbook and faux-folksy shtick is a matter of taste, but it’s acquired a growing fanbase.

Driving around in the 20-foot travel trailer that serves as their living quarter, they meet itinerant Roger at Joshua Tree, and become a threesome. But cramped quarters, stress, and Jay’s admitted tendency to be controlling ultimately unravel not just the arrangement, but Y’all’s future.

Human drama amps the interest level considerably, though it still feels attenuated. Breaking up the verite approach are a few digressions, most notably a fun “Scooby-Doo”-style animated sequence that outlines Y’all’s self-created mythology. Pic is generally nicely shot and edited (though it could be tightened up) on a shoestring.

Life In A Box

Production

A Lucky Green Dress production. Produced by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer. Executive producer, Bill Resnick. Directed by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Roger McKeever, Cheslik-DeMeyer, James Dean Jay Byrd; editor, Carl Weichert; music, Y'All. Reviewed at San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, April 30, 2005. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, James Dean Jay Byrd, Roger McKeever.
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