With a title to give even Douglas Sirk pause, the rousing, old-fashioned gay meller “Between Love and Goodbye” pits monogamous love against polymorphous perversity. Out of the resultant sturm und drag, tragedy is born. Helmer-scripter Casper Andreas, whose previous credits (“Slutty Summer,” “A Four Letter Word”) adhered firmly and flamboyantly to the comedic, seems to have hit his stride with the operatic excesses of melodrama. Unfortunately, the Gotham-set film may lack the immediate camp hooks of Andreas’ previous, semi-successful outings.
Kyle (Simon Miller) and Marcel (Justin Tensen) meet, mate and fall madly in love. Pic opens on a wedding, ostensibly between Marcel and Sarah (Jane Elliott). But in fact, the ceremony reps the first step in stabilizing Kyle and Marcel’s union, since Marcel, being French, needs a greencard. It’s all very matter-of-factly fey, with Kyle literally skipping down Gotham streets in search of something blue and Marcel’s mother flying in from Paris to legitimize the nuptial farce.
Conflict comes not from the mock marriage (Sarah’s grousing at having to appear “feminine” notwithstanding), but from Kyle’s estranged sister April (Rob Harmon), who moves in “temporarily” and proceeds to do everything in her manipulative power to break up the loving couple.
Andreas presents the couple’s slow disintegration under the acid spell of April’s malevolence almost as a musical, with April slyly weaning Kyle away from Marcel by putting together a band. The siblings spend long hours composing songs whose nature gradually mutates: Kyle’s role as singer-songwriter brings out a latent demonic quality, increasingly shared by brother and sister, that transcends gender. April’s mid-film reversion to a male “Cole,” after her breast implants fail, changes absolutely nothing — male or female, he/she still wields the same destructive force.
In Richard LeMay’s similarly themed NewFest offering “Whirlwind,” the moral focus was on the ability of a group of friends to withstand the “whirlwind” of promiscuity. Here, a hang-loose community of casual roomies never stands a chance against the lure of cynicism and primordial blood ties.
Andreas strikes a neat balance between acting approaches, offsetting the improv ease of Marcel and pic’s second stringers with Kyle’s slightly hysterical happy-puppy nature. When the two siblings perform together on stage — Kyle croons his disaffection to Marcel in the audience, accompanied by Cole on synthesizer — the family resemblance is striking.