Thwarted by his family circumstance and finding it hard to find his place in a small industrial Californian town, heartthrob Zach (Trevor Wright) is a trapped, talented artist.
Stymied by his situation; a selfish and homophobic sister, a loveless relationship with his girlfriend and a father who is next to useless. With Art College and a new life calling him, Zach finds himself suffocated by his life with a hopeless acceptance. However things begin to change when Shaun (Brad Rowe), Zach’s best friend’s brother returns to town. Life begins to click into place when a drunken night together shows Zach a new reality. One that offers a life unlimited.
As the relationship develops between the two would-be lovers, the reality of his new secret life mounts pressure on his daily existence. Zach is torn between the release of who he wants to be and the pressures of his real life. Zach has become a surrogate father to his sister’s five-year-old son, the adorable Cody (Jackson Wurth) in-between his shifts flipping burgers. His small town, wrong side of the tracks existence and expectations battle directly with the possibilities that lay ahead with Shaun, Art College and escaping from his humbler beginnings.
What makes Shelter a wholly charming film to watch is its warmth and honesty. Its tentative steps and its revealing of Zach’s new potential is stunning. You know where you are with Shelter and you know where you’re going and clichés aside, it’s a magnificent film for many reasons. It’s a hazy, sweet, Gaussian, Californian coming out story. Filmed with a sensitivity that’s not often found in queer cinema. The sex scenes aren’t graphic, but leave enough to the imagination. It’s everything you wish your vanilla first time with a man might be. Its lack of reference to the gay scene or to gay culture makes it a film that can be enjoyed by most audiences, who appreciate a good romance. Filled with instamatic – esque shots of the Californian shoreline, crashing waves mix well with a thoughtful and provocative soundtrack.
The camera does linger on Trevor Wright and he deserves the attention. Acting with an introspective knowing, Wright leads the story through and along with Brad Rowe gives great screen. Their chemistry is undeniable, their potential promising. It is an entirely shameful that Wright hasn’t garnered more film success because he is a riveting actor to behold.
Shelter never fails to deliver what you’d expect from a coming out story, perhaps a little less complicated than real life situations, but definitely a film I’d revisit.
Perfect if you like: Rainbows, Hollister and Hollywood endings.
Dreadful if you like: Slings, fisting and earthy dramas.