A strong cast, formal visual style and cynical voiceover that propels the action help elevate this Seattle-set gay romp from the ranks of the stereotypical. Based on the novel by Matthew Rettenmund, Q. Allan Brocka's sophomore feature wryly recounts a tragicomic dance of displaced desire as three roommates circle each other warily, uncovering layers of denial, defensiveness and role-playing.

A strong cast, formal visual style and cynical voiceover that propels the action help elevate this Seattle-set gay romp from the ranks of the stereotypical. Based on the novel by Matthew Rettenmund, Q. Allan Brocka’s sophomore feature wryly recounts a tragicomic dance of displaced desire as three roommates circle each other warily, uncovering layers of denial, defensiveness and role-playing. Too devoid of angst and too enmeshed in the ironies of gayness to cross over to a wide aud, “Culture” is nevertheless slick enough to assure niche release.

Hero-narrator X (Derek Magyar) is a 26-year-old hustler with a large bank account and an exclusive clientele of 12 (his “disciples,” as he sardonically calls them).

Avoiding non-monetary relationships like the plague, he is nevertheless attracted to his sexy black roommate Andrew (Darryl Stevens), who has not quite come to terms with his sexuality. Meanwhile, his other roommate, an outrageous teen twink named Joey (Jonathon Trent), is madly in love with X, while screwing anything that moves.

Latest elderly disciple, Gregory (the always-urbane Patrick Bachau) refuses to sleep with X until the desire is mutual. By denying a money-for-sex exchange, Gregory begins to break down the walls X has built around himself.

Thesping is excellent, all four of the main players able to infuse familiar types with believable emotions. Ably supported by Philip Pierce’s and Brocka’s screenplay, the actors intelligently incorporate defensiveness into irony. Magyar’s X smolders with repressed sensuality, and the attraction between his character and Stephens’ Andrew is so palpable as to render their difficulties almost comic.

Ultimately, what makes “Boy Culture” so likeable is its presumption of intelligence; no matter how idiotically a character behaves, helmer Brocka suggests a certain distance between how he acts and how he thinks. Ultimately, the characters’ true affections for each other are realized less by sentiment than through intellectual epiphany.

Amid pro tech credits, production design by Cecil Gentry, even at its campiest, possesses a cerebral quality. Tech credits are pro.

Boy Culture

Production

A Boy Culture production. Produced by Stephen Israel, Philip Pierce, Victor Simpkins. Co-producer, Phil Lobel. Directed by Q. Allan Brocka. Screenplay by Philip Pierce, Brocka from the novel by Matthew Rettenmund.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-HD), Joshua Hess; editor, Phillip J. Bartell; music, Ryan Beveridge; music supervisor, Bill Coleman; production designer, Cecil Gentry; costume designer, Ron Leamon; sound, Scot Charles; casting, Linda Phillips Palo, Robert McGee, Jason James. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Discovery), April 27, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Derek Magyar, Patrick Bauchau, Darryl Stephens, Jonathon Trent, Peyton Hinson, Kyle Santler.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more