×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Eban and Charley

Taking a muted, ambivalent stance toward a touchy subject, vid-shot indie drama "Eban and Charley" straightforwardly chronicles the development of a love affair between a 29-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, as well as the parental anger and possible legal consequences it provokes. Sometimes spare to a fault (especially scriptwise), low-key effort nonetheless holds attention with its naturalistic, nonsensationalized approach.

With:
With: Brent Fellows, Giovanni Andrade, Ellie Nicholson, Drew Zeller, Pam Munter, Ron Upton, Nolan V. Chard.

Taking a muted, ambivalent stance toward a touchy subject, vid-shot indie drama “Eban and Charley” straightforwardly chronicles the development of a love affair between a 29-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, as well as the parental anger and possible legal consequences it provokes. Sometimes spare to a fault (especially scriptwise), low-key effort nonetheless holds attention with its naturalistic, nonsensationalized approach. Specialized homevid sales will be apt after pic covers the gay-fest circuit.

Rather adolescent himself in his scrawny physicality and awkward manner, Eban (Brent Fellows) returns to his Washington hometown around Christmas. He’s vague about the reasons for having left Seattle, and his parents already seem to have acquired a “better not knowing” attitude toward this puzzling son’s activities. Killing time in the local record store, Eban spies skinny skateboarder Charley (Giovanni Andrade) and rather insistently strikes up a friendship on the pretense of swapping lessons (both guys practice guitar and American Sign Language, to varying ability).

This come-on is a little creepy — one could say the same about Eban in general — but Charley, a lonely newcomer forced to live with his hostile, long-divorced father in the wake of his mom’s recent death, proves precociously willing on all fronts. He’s less quick, however, to grasp the severe potential consequences of this relationship between adult and juvenile. In fact, neither Eban nor Charley is particularly mature, or cautious enough about “getting caught.”

It emerges that erstwhile soccer coach Eban fled Seattle under threat of prosecution for an affair with a student. Once both characters’ fathers glean what’s going on, it’s clear the two must never be seen together again, or else hit the road as fugitives.

Pic recalls Wolfgang Petersen’s debut feature, “The Consequence,” in both subject and treatment; writer-helmer James Bolton resists sentimentalizing or demonizing the protags, both of whom seem just half-formed as personalities — Charley due to his youth, Eban perhaps pathologically. We’re left to read what we will into their motives and judge for ourselves whether this is forbidden but true love or pederastic predation. (One mild, semi-clothed interlude aside, there’s no onscreen sexual activity.)

Lead thesps do well making these recessive characters intriguingly ambiguous, just as script’s plain, everyday dialogue avoids psychological/social-problem literalism. Still, at times this deliberate reserve seems clunky or just undernourished, with pacing occasionally lax. Charley’s friends, two heterosexual teens also on the verge of running away, provide sole subplot; parents’ roles are sketchy.

Good use is made of wintry Northwestern locations; micro-budget production is technically well handled. A selling point is the score by Stephen Merritt, whose low-fi pop cult band Magnetic Fields contribs several songs. Fans of Gus Van Sant’s early indie work won’t be surprised to find him among those thanked in closing credits.

Eban and Charley

Production: A Monqui Films/Harcamone Films production. Produced by Chris Monlux. Directed, written by James Bolton.

Crew: Camera (color, video), Judy Irola; editor, Elizabeth Edwards; music, Stephen Merritt; art director, Stephanie Walker; sound designer, Charles D. Ballard. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, June 12, 2000. (In S.F. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Brent Fellows, Giovanni Andrade, Ellie Nicholson, Drew Zeller, Pam Munter, Ron Upton, Nolan V. Chard.

More Film

  • RUDOLF NUREYEV 1961

    Film Review: 'Nureyev'

    It would be absurd to say that Rudolf Nureyev lived, or danced, in anyone’s shadow. He was a man who leapt and twirled and flew onstage, all muscle but light as a feather, with a freedom and force that reconfigured the human spirit. There’s no denying, though, that over the last few decades, and especially [...]

  • Die Kinder Der Toten review

    Film Review: 'Die Kinder Der Toten'

    The hills are alive (or rather, undead), with the sound of music (also mastication and the moaning of zombies) in Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska’s experimental, dialogue-free, home-movie-style riff on Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Kinder Der Toten” (The Children of the Dead). A seminal text in Jelinek’s native Austria, the 1995 book has never been translated [...]

  • Idol review

    Film Review: 'Idol'

    How many twists can a plot undergo before it snaps? This, more than any of the many political, moral and personal conundrums that snake through “Idol,” seems to be the question writer-director Lee Su-jin is most interested in posing with his extravagantly incomprehensible sophomore feature. A seedy political thriller by way of grisly revenge movie [...]

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content