A Long Night of Being Gay in Strapped

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Strapped
Directed by Joseph Graham
TLA Releasing
Opens September 24, Quad Cinema

A dream odyssey of gay self-definition that's as laborious as it is hollow, Strapped follows a nameless hustler (Ben Bonenfant) through random eroticized encounters with a variety of johns in a mysterious apartment building. Traveling down a succession of rabbit (and other) holes over the course of one rainy night, his is a purely representational journey, with Bonenfant's self-described "agent of desire" screwing, for cash, strange men whose assorted carnal appetites and similarly divergent comfort levels with their sexuality are supposed to help clarify his own confused identity. Alas, for all of writer/director Joseph Graham's orgasmic close-ups, this nomadic Abercrombie & Fitch–looking protagonist remains throughout a listless cipher. Moreover, his randy dalliances with a tentative Russian soldier, a flamboyantly miserable cokehead, a burly older gent, and a sweet romantic (among others) are dramatically inert and rife with forced pathos and explicit smuttiness, making Strapped a pretentious parade of homosexual archetypes. That impression merely mounts as the action crawls toward a climactic confrontation between fear and love, flight and fight, and is ultimately cemented by strained shout-outs to My Own Private Idaho, Foucault, and Querelle—all accentuating the second-rateness of this investigation of the interior.

 
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