Brian Sloan’s “WTC View” dramatizes how a gay downtown apartment dweller copes with post-9/11 trauma. Unevenly written yet cleanly staged, pic makes a smooth transition from its legit origins, with Sloan directing his smart original cast. Appeal lies beyond gay fests, though the drama may not have enough for theatrical rents.
Eric (Michael Urie) is unlucky enough to place an ad for a roommate in the Village Voice on Sept. 10, 2001, and yet he still manages to get a few comers. Wisely skipping over the disastrous day (and also shrewdly never directly showing the apartment’s view of the disaster sight), Sloan’s pic follows a rattled Eric when he interviews prospective roomies: Brit hotelier Jeremy (Jeremy Beazlie); livewire native Gothamite Kevin (Lucas Papealias); straight nice guy and liberal political organizer Jeff (Michael Linstroth); gay Alex (Nick Potenzieri) — with whom Eric shares many emotions and his bed for the night; and NYU student Max (Jay Gillespie), whose teacher has urged him to stay in New York “because the city needs him.”
This last sentiment governs much of the sensitive film, as young people left unmoored by events beyond their control try to make sense of their lives. Sloan finds a natural dramatic device, with Eric earnestly — and then desperately — trying to find a living companion, as a metaphor for what it means to have some stability in a world that can change in an instant.
The rock in Eric’s existence is his amusing friend Josie (Elizabeth Kapplow), whose love life with her hubby has gone down the tubes since 9/11. She senses her vulnerable buddy needs post-trauma therapy.
There’s a nice lived-in quality to the performances of Sloan’s actors, which eases the burden that the film is an undisguised adaptation of a stage play. Urie creates a performance that functions like a pressure cooker, and it only loses credibility when the emotions explode.
Lensing and use of an enclosed Manhattan flat are surprisingly uncramped, but that doesn’t lessen the feeling of relief in the final moments in the open air outside the apartment building.