★★★★ | In Bloom
This is the rather gritty story of a hip very young gay couple in Chicago’s ‘Boystown’ coming to terms with how tough one’s first love can be.
Kurt is a small time drug dealer who supplies pot to his peers, whilst Paul his boyfriend of two years has a dead-end job in a local grocery store that he can barely tolerate. When the long summer starts, they are having fun and very much into each other and seem the perfect couple, but some seven months later they have separated and can barely talk to each other.
Everything had been going well with them until one night one of Kurt’s good-looking customers puts the moves on him, and although he initially resists Kevin’s advances does it opens his mind to the possibility that there is more to life outside of his cosy relationship with Paul. Suddenly that starts to look painfully inadequate to him now, and in a fit of impulse he starts a ‘break-up’ that he will only regret when it is far too late.
If that is not bad enough, the real world outside is even scarier than usual right now as there is a serial killer on the prowl whose victims have all been young gay man from the area. With Kurt making late night deliveries to hip parties all over he is probably more at risk than most.
This look at contemporary edgy youth culture is the work of a 22 year newbie filmmaker Chris Michael Birkmeier who based this work of fiction on his own story of when he broke up with his first ever boyfriend. The plot is steeped in innocence and naivete and full of well-meaning intentions. It’s a remarkable debut feature and as such one can overlook the slow-moving story line that almost grinds to a halt at times.
Credit too for the great wee cast full of untried talent, and very good photography too.
The comparisons between Mr Birkmeier and the French/Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan who picked up Awards at Cannes for his first movie at the tender age of 19, are natural. Especially when Birkmeier makes no bones of the fact that he is a big Dolan fan. But there is very little similarity in their work and this movie is of a much simpler construction and far more straightforward. The two young filmmaker’s works complement each other, rather than complete.
No doubt at all that C M Birkmeier (as he bills himself) is one to watch in new queer cinema, and I for one cannot wait to see how he follows this fascinating first movie.