Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

Gay & bi lives


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Almost as lovely as the Oscar-nominated "Call Me By Your Name," James Fanizza's romantic drama "Sebastian," shot in Toronto, comes to DVD courtesy of lesbian-owned Wolfe Video. The film poses the question, What do you do when your soulmate turns out to be your cousin's boyfriend?

Sebastian (Alex House), who lives in Buenos Aires, is visiting his Canadian relatives. He meets Alex (writer-director Fanizza) for coffee. The attraction between them is instantaneous and irresistible, love at first sight. The pair is forced to confront two realities: Alex is dating Sebastian's cousin, whom he has no feelings for, and Sebastian is due to return to Buenos Aires in a week.

The film follows their week-long relationship as the bond between them grows stronger and deeper. When Alex's boyfriend catches them together, all hell breaks out. Alex and Sebastian briefly break up but get back together. They are simply unable to resist each other. When the time comes for Sebastian to return to Argentina, they have to decide what to do. Will they split up for good, or find a way to stay together? House and Fanizza have amazing chemistry together. The screen sizzles when they kiss. Fanizza's mature script does not villainize them for hurting Sebastian's cousin. They mean no harm.

Brian McCook (aka Katya Zamolodchikova from "Drag Race") is on hand as Alex's best friend, but this casting is the film's one flaw. McCook's character Xenia is never developed, a decorative role. We see Xenia performing drag in the local gay bar and urging Alex to follow his heart. It's a thankless part that anyone could have played. But "Sebastian" is a sweet romance. Anyone who's felt the exhilarating joy and pain of love can relate to Sebastian and Alex. We give the film three out of four kisses.

Kino Lorber offers Anna Muylaert's "Don't Call Me Son," an intense drama from Brazil. The life of bisexual 17-year-old Pierre is thrown upside-down when he learns that he and his sister were stolen out of a maternity ward by the woman they think is their mother. While Mom sits in jail, Pierre is returned to his biological parents, who insist on calling him Felipe, their name for him. They ignore his resentment at being torn from his family.

The box cover suggests that the film has more queer content then it actually does. Pierre's bisexuality is made clear. He's seen having sex with a girl and kissing another boy. But these are throwaway scenes that have nothing to do with the film's plot. He begins to cross-dress in front of his parents, but he doesn't appear to be trans. He's doing this to piss them off.

Naomi Nero gives a layered performance as the angry young man who just wants his family back. Dani Nefussi is good in the dual roles of both mothers. If you want to see a film that offers a look at a young bi kid's struggle with sexuality, look elsewhere. But if a drama about family loyalty sounds interesting, then find "Don't Call Me Son."

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