An abuse survivor discovers the guy he’s fallen for hasn’t been honest in multihyphenate Rob Moretti’s stilted “Truth,” a low-budget potboiler with an overblown score not loud enough to drown out the hackneyed dialogue. Undoubtedly the pic’s biggest talking point will be lead Sean Paul Lockhart, a former gay porn star (aka Brent Corrigan) who’s demonstrated a winning playfulness in other non-adult roles, but not even Montgomery Clift could do something with this foolishness. A very limited release will be boosted by decent disc and VOD life thanks to Lockhart’s drawing power.

Sophomore helmer Moretti’s last directorial effort, “Crutch,” was in 2004, yet the ensuing years haven’t honed his understanding of structure or increased his ability to transform three-dimensional concepts beyond two-dimensions. Caleb (Lockhart) is in jail — why he needs to be handcuffed when already behind bars is less than clear. His shrink, Dr. Carter Moore (Blanche Baker, inexpressive), tries to get him to open up as desaturated flashbacks reveal an abusive alchoholic mother (Suzanne Didonna, ridiculous) along with a more recent moment of crisis involving a large, conspicuously placed kitchen knife.

“Let’s start at the beginning,” coaxes Dr. Moore, which is when the narrative kicks in and Caleb meets older Jeremy (director Moretti). After psycho mom and a string of foster homes, the younger man is wary of trusting others, yet Jeremy wins his heart, signaled by a banal montage of them holding hands by the George Washington Bridge, walking in a park and taking a shower, all accompanied by a plucked guitar.

Given Caleb’s history and his reliance on anti-anxiety meds, it’s odd that after eight months he never wonders why their rendezvous are always at his place. Then he decides to surprise Jeremy at his house, where he discovers his lover has a wife (Rebekah Aramini) with a bun in the oven. Maybe this isn’t the best time for Moretti to cut, as if in an impossibly recalled flashback, to Caleb’s mom punching herself in her very pregnant belly. Then again, no time would be right for such an absurd scene.

Since there’s little redeemable about the story, viewers deserve some compensatory pleasures; hence the generous amount of beefcake, though audiences wanting to see Lockhart having sex can choose from vastly superior vehicles. In short films and pics like “Judas Kiss,” the actor’s shown a boyishly magnetic charm that suggests a talent for irony and comedy, yet he’ll need a strong director and a good, non-exploitative story to prove to the larger world he’s more than a pretty package — not an impossibility.

Either Moretti or d.p. D.A. Santos have a limited conception of how to use cinematic space, and the visuals are uniformly flat in a TV way, notwithstanding the sparsely populated widescreen lensing. Wildly dramatic music is plain silly and totally out of scale with what’s onscreen.

Film Review: ‘Truth’

<p>Reviewed online, Rome, Jan. 9, 2014. Running time: <b><b>94 MIN</b>.</b></p><div><b> </b></div>

  • Production: <p>A Left of Center Entertainment production. (International sales: Border2Border Entertainment, Montreal.) Produced by Ashley Ahn, Sean Paul Lockhart, Rob Moretti. Executive producers, Charlie David, Elvis Duran, Alan Klessig, Caroline Roboh, Thomas Soriano.</p>
  • Crew: <p>Directed, written by Rob Moretti. Camera (color, widescreen), D.A. Santos; editor, Cassandra McManus; music, Jonathan Bartz; production designer, Tommy Janulis; art director, Julianne Irene; sound (Dolby Digital 5.1), Max Holland, Ryan M. DeRosa; associate producers, Stephanie Tonnon, Mark Raven; assistant director, Kolm Mooney.</p>
  • With: <p>Sean Paul Lockhart, Rob Moretti, Blanche Baker, Suzanne Didonna, Rebekah Aramini, Philip Joseph McElroy, Max Rhyser, John Van Steen.</p>