A gay breakup tale that springs its structural-gimmick surprise midway — but remains just moderately interesting nonetheless — “Drift” reps a respectable soph feature effort for writer-helmer Quentin Lee. Both more coherent and less intriguing than his prior “Shopping for Fangs,” vid-shot relationship triangle has a fair shot at specialized theatrical distrib.
Protag Ryan (R.T. Lee) is a late-20s Asian Canadian living in L.A. with domestic partner Joel (Greyson Dayne), serving espresso at a cafe while pegging hopes on a screenwriting career. At a party, he meets college student Leo (Jonathon Roessler); a mutual attraction sparks, fueled by shared enthusiasm for horror movies, serial killer lore and other “dark side” diversions.
On the verge of a third-year anniversary with Joel, Ryan worries that “he just doesn’t understand what I’m passionate about,” fancying flirtatious virgin Leo might be The One instead. Ryan abruptly moves out, crashing with pal Carrie (Desi del Valle) while he pursues Leo and keeps distraught Joel on tenterhooks.
Things really do work out with Leo — or at least that’s one possibility. Once this narrative outcome is traced, pic unexpectedly rewinds to the move-out moment, first viewing events if they’d led toward a reconciliation with Joel, then retooling them again to yet a third, ambiguous denouement.
“Drift” refreshes as one L.A.-set gay relationship pic whose characters exist outside the familiar, glib West Hollywood trendoid/entertainment industry satellite world of “Broken Hearts Club,” “Relax … It’s Just Sex,” etc. Cast is attractive but not model-perfect-looking, and their perfs are likably naturalistic as well.
Lee crafts actions and situations that are credible without being particularly engrossing — recognition doesn’t necessarily translate into absorbsion. A few more narrative left turns or personality quirks might have lent the ultimately slight feature needed heft.
Vid-shot lensing is agile, with OK transfer to 35mm; deft editing and decent production values make the most of a small budget.