Review: ‘Blackmail Boys’

An oddly endearing mix of graphic sex, young love and home-movie noir from the Shumanski brothers.

This oddly endearing mix of graphic sex, young love and home-movie noir from the Shumanski brothers (“Wrecked”) depicts a guileless gay couple’s brief foray into crime. The Chicago-set zero-budgeter, lensed by indie shock-horror helmer Adam Wingard, also features the Windy City’s favorite mumblecore son, Joe Swanberg, as a homophobic evangelist-cum-closet queer. Ultimately destined for the gay circuit, “Boys” rewards target auds with a high quotient of sexual explicitness combined with thesping of genuinely unaffected sweetness.

To make ends meet as a new student at the Art Institute of Chicago, gentle Sam (Nathan Adloff) resorts to hustling, a choice that greatly perturbs longtime b.f. and future hubby Aaron (Taylor Reed) upon his arrival from Memphis. Recognizing one of Sam’s rich johns (Swanberg) as a famous antigay proselytizer, Aaron proposes to blackmail him for a nuptial nest egg. Plans go awry in classic noir fashion, Sam even supplying doleful hindsight narration (albeit oncamera and with a surprising lack of atmospheric foreboding). Pic’s improbable ending tone is less a cop-out than a playful genre twist.

Blackmail Boys

Production

A Shumanski Brothers presentation of a Hands Up production. Executive producers, Bernard Shumanski, Richard Shumanski. Directed, written, edited by Bernard Shumanski, Richard Shumanski.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Adam Wingard; music, Blue Cyclops Boy; music supervisor, Harry Shumanski. Reviewed on DVD, Jan. 25, 2011. Running time: 67 MIN.

With

Nathan Adloff, Taylor Reed, Joe Swanberg, Tammy Fana, Danny Rhodes.

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