★★ | Candid Love

Filmmaker Kurtz Frausun’s voyeuristic record of an ill-fated relationship between two desperately troubled men is a disturbing sight that raises all sorts of questions.

The first one of which is why they even allowed the intrusive camera into their lives at a time when they are both clinging on to the last vestiges of hope as their worlds continue to unfold in front of their (and our) eyes. Frausun even jumps in front of the camera at one point to question the morality of being a witness to this highly personal situation especially when it soon becomes apparent to us, if not the two men themselves, that it is doomed.

Jon is gay and bi-polar and Daniel his partner is a recovering alcoholic and suffers from depression and has still not recovered from the love of his life who is his (ex) wife of 11 years. He doesn’t identify as gay per se but admits to dating gay men in the two years since his marriage fell apart. Jon is his second boyfriend and they are fast approaching their first anniversary when Daniel’s father is suddenly taken to hospital with an aneurysm.

The ‘story’ starts after Daniel has rushed from the apartment he shares with Jon in Texas to his father’s bedside in Wisconsin. A quick session of events follow resulting in the father’s death and Daniel needing to deal with both planning the funeral and taking care of his mother even though it is clear from the morose and confusing phone conversations with Jon that his depression has really kicked up a notch or two and that he will not be able to resist slipping back into hitting the bottle again.

In all of his conversations, first on the phone and then when he eventually comes back to Texas, he uses Jon as a verbal punching bag, although judging from his disclosures, sometimes in the past he resorted to physical violence as well. His is obviously a deeply unhappy man struggling with his mental health issues who makes no secret that his ‘relationship’ with Jon started falling apart just after two months and as he goes into detail of its disintegration, it’s remarkable that he even considers continuing wanting to be with someone he has such scant regard for and seems to positive loathe.

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Jon is not much better as all he does is complain to the camera about how miserably unhappy he is with the state of affairs between the two of them and the only thing that makes it all bearable is smoking. Legal and illegal cigarettes.

It’s infuriating at times watching these two people’s obvious pain as they just stumble around directionless and as the totally unsatisfactory compromise that they clumsily piece together hasn’t a chance in hell in succeeding, doesn’t make their reality any less unpalatable. I simply have no idea why they put themselves through it all let alone why they allowed the camera to record it. I for one, wished they hadn’t.

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‘Candid’ means straightforward and honest, and frankly, neither Daniel nor Jon were capable of really ever being this. Plus of all the emotions they showed in the 60 minutes of this film there was very little ‘love’, if any at all.

About the author: Roger Walker-Dack
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