Director: Kyle Henry
Runtime: 80 minutes
Kyle Henry’s Fourplay is a curious case: an anthology of individual films with production dates from 2010-onwards exploring broadly sex between species, heterosexuals, homosexuals and the film’s most touching segment, a “heterosexual” male and a male-to-female transgendered hooker. The treatment of sexuality ranges from serious and potentially erotic (I say potentially because the material is here, but the rhythm seems off) to, in the case of a Tampa, an all-out Farrelly brothers-style assault complete with an awful lot of projectile cum.
The omnibus film is uneven at best, taking place in four different cities: Skokie, Austin, Tampa and San Francisco. Skokie features Sara Sevigny as Gail, a single religious women who is asked to house sit for her friends. In the process of erotic dreaming she comes to many a revelation about herself, making for a funny and touching segment, setting the pace for what I’d hoped would be the remaining stories.
The second story Austin is clichéd, centering on a young couple Lily and Kai (Danielle Rene and Atticus Rowe) as they grapple with the missing passion in their sex life after a plan for a hot weekend falls through. This one, unlike the others, features Austin as a character, but what could have been a very tense, erotic and fascinating short falls apart due to shortcomings, not in structure but execution — ironic for a movie with this title to have such little restraint.
The next story takes us to a men’s room at the University Mall in Tampa, FL, apparently a cruising spot for a silly, filthy sketch that overstays its welcome. This short follows a Glenn Beck lookalike in an army uniform, who has an erotic encounter with Adolph Hitler. If Movie 43 weren’t so phobic of anything that wasn’t a heterosexual male, this would fit right in. There is little foreplay here and much of the aforementioned projectile cum. This one is not without laughs but, again, the timing is off.
The last story is the film’s most serious in tone – a fascinating study in the performance of “erotic” – Paul Soileau stars as Aliya, who is called upon by the wife of a bed ridden man (Gary Chason) to seduce him. We get the sense he’s faithful his whole life and wants to try something different, however we understand there is potentially something darker at play here. This one is ambiguous and subtle in ways the other stories did not achieve, as it’s too good for this mixed bag.
The Fourplay anthology is largely a missed opportunity. While frank and entertaining, it doesn’t feel cohesive as a whole, and the individual shorts themselves never quite resonate. Perhaps that is the power of the film: heteronormative filmmaking has made “others” out of anything that does not conform and here the heterosexual characters in Austin are merely a sketch of repressed white late 20’s hipsters.
I’m not sure what to make of each individual city: for me it’d be more interesting to see what differences exist in smaller cities – what’s sex like in Erie, PA or Springfield, MA? The problem is Fourplay lacks the interest to really dig in and do something groundbreaking, perceptive and really hit a nerve the way gay experimental filmmakers have been doing for 20 years. The form for the conversation is palatable and slick but requires refinement and original direction.
One can see an overall grade further below and these individual segments directly underneath:
Skokie: C+ / Austin: D+ / Tampa: C- / San Francisco: B+
Fourplay is now screening in Austin and will roll-out nationally in March and April. Check out more details here.
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