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Stud Life

Campbell X's raffish, seriocomic debut feature is rough-hewn in technical and narrative terms but offers a bracingly uncompromised peek at a subculture that should appeal to (primarily) lesbian audiences.

“Stud Life” spends some time in the agreeable company of a mega-butch black lesbian and gay white “pretty boy,” London fringe-dwellers perpetually scurrying back from their latest romantic travails to one another’s safe company. Like “Go Fish” 18 years ago, Campbell X’s raffish, seriocomic debut feature is rough-hewn in technical and narrative terms but offers a bracingly uncompromised peek at a subculture that should appeal to (primarily) lesbian audiences. Offshore niche home-format sales should be brisk.

For JJ (T’Nia Miller), the day begins not atypically with her waking up next to best friend Seb (Kyle Treslove), who’s crashed at her place once again — this time evoking an “ewww” response with his morning erection, a breach in decorum they both quickly laugh off. Very little is off limits in their relationship, which extends to a shared business photographing weddings (seemingly only gay ones).

On their own, though, each struggles to find a less platonic form of long-term love. JJ grows infatuated with gorgeous femme Elle (Robyn Kerr), but can’t cope when she reveals her envelope-pushing trade, prompting an ugly breakup and subsequent remorse. Seb’s taste for rough trade is sure to invite trouble sooner or later; meanwhile, he fends off an effete, besotted suitor in many-monikered drug dealer Smack Jack aka Perry aka Tristan (Simon Savory). Their eventual coming together feels like pure formulaic contrivance.

Light on story, with nonexistent scene transitions and lazy connective issue in JJ’s YouTube video-journal posts, the pic is often crudely wrought. Yet a certain esprit keeps it ingratiating throughout. The winning principal element here is the lead characters’ credibly lived-in, loyal affection, with thesps Miller and Treslove (who suggests a more androgynous Russell Brand) in perfect synch. Writer-helmer Campbell X is also variously billed as Campbell Ex and just plain Campbell in some materials.

Stud Life

U.K.

  • Production: A New Line Republic production. Produced by Lulu Belliveau, Nadya Kassam, Stella Nwimo. Directed, written by Campbell X.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Barbara Nicholls; editors, Michele Hickson, Zoe Montagu-Smith; music, Jessica Lauren; set decorator, Lucy-Ruth Hathaway; costume designer, Janet Spriggs; sound, David Sohanpal; re-recording mixer, Stephen Chase; assistant director, Sharlene Bamboat. Reviewed at Frameline (Showcase), San Francisco, June 17, 2012. Running time: 84 MIN.
  • With: With: T'Nia Miller, Kyle Treslove, Robyn Kerr, Simon Savory.
  • Music By: