Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pose Reviews A Movie. #11: Humpday

There are a lot of ‘indie comedies’ out there these days, but up-and-comer Lynn Shelton’s Humpday stands out proudly as a piece with substance.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it received a Special Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival, but this lighthearted tale about two old friends who get wasted and decide to enter an erotic film competition is a real cinematic treat.

The substance of Humpday, though, is derived from the film’s unapologetic analysis of relationships, gender roles and constructions of masculinity.

The two main characters, Andrew and Ben, are enirely straight, but their age-old friendship and boyish competitiveness leads them, over the course of a weekend reunion, to a bold decision to have sex on film--with each other.

The humour is derived from the way Andrew and Ben keep egging each other on, even when each of them seems noticeably uncomfortable with the prospect of making sweet sweet love to each other, even in the name of artistic innovation. And with Ben’s well-meaning (though thoroughly confused) wife, Anna trying to figure out what the two guys are up to, a whole lot of well-constructed tension escalates over the course of the plot.

But the rather outlandish situation presented in Humpday provides a lasting and thought-provoking journey through the spectrum of forms which love, “manliness,” friendship and sexual orientation can take, even within the same person.

What I like about Humpday is that it fearlessly confronts the viewer with what for most people is a discomforting situation--namely, having sex outside of what you’ve long considered to be your innate sexual orientation, and shattering that barrier with a friend you’ve known for years--and asks, “So what? What’s the big deal?”

Humpday is liberating in its message, endearing through its characters, and finds tremendous humour in awkwardness, making it not only more enjoyable, but also more accessible to a wider audience.

It’s short, but more importantly it’s sweet, and I’d certainly recommend Humpday to anyone who has always liked buddy movies, but who kind of wants to take things to the next level. (If you know what I mean.)

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