★ | Drown
Three lifeguards pal around until things turn ugly one night in the new film ‘Drown.’
‘Drown’ is a film with very ugly overtones. And it’s not even a positive portrayal of a young gay man who continues to get beaten up and up by an evil homophobic asshole. Handsome Jack Matthews plays Phil. He’s the newby lifeguard in a team that includes the unpredictable and very volatile Len (Matt Levett). They form a trio with fellow lifeguard nick-named Meat (Harry Cook), and together all three bond, in some sort of strange way.
Len has some kind of strange fascination for Phil, it’s either because Phil is gay and Len doesn’t like it or because Len is secretly attracted to Phil, though won’t admit it to himself. Len is also jealous of Meat, because of his very large penis (not shown unfortunately). But when Phil beats Len in a Lifeguard competition, it causes Len to fume with anger and more jealously because he was beaten by a homosexual.
Len’s anger grows even more after Phil’s very handsome boyfriend Tom (Sam Anderson) enters the picture.
Drown is told in flashbacks beginning with their night out to celebrate Phil’s win. But it’s a night out that turns out to be both dangerous, and extremely absurd.
In flashbacks taking us away from that night out, we see Len beating Phil up, but Phil denies Len ever doing so, and we’re not told why. Surely an extremely homophobic lifeguard with sadistic tendencies needs to be shown the door? And perhaps arrested? Meat is an accomplice to Len’s evil doings – he’s the bitch that Len seems to desperately want. Len even orders Meat to take off injured Phil’s clothes off on a deserted beach? Including his underwear. And most of the time the dialogue is ridiculous, especially in the moments when Len and Meat are discussing Meat’s large penis.
I was just hoping Len would either put it in his mouth or take it up his arse, just to relieve some of his sexual anxiety. And while there are beautiful images of the men swimming, and sunsets, and a woman who swims and swims out to the ocean with the likelihood that she won’t be coming back used as a metaphor for Len’s personality, it all makes for a highly uncomfortable and almost unwatchable 93-minute film.
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.