Defying Gravity

Denying Reality, more like. John Keitel's first feature is impossibly naive, even as smoothed-over coming-out tales go, and its sole, cursory twist—a frat-house setting—registers mainly as an autobiographical indulgence. Frat boy Griff has the hots for Pete, who has recently left the house for a more liberating lifestyle off campus. But Pete, newly sensitive homosexual, wants a relationship, while Griff, big-time closet case, just wants to fuck. When Pete is gay-bashed into a coma, Griff, a possible witness, risks outing himself if he comes forward. This half-assed melodramatic contrivance is the crux of the film, which stalls periodically even though its foregone conclusion is never less than in plain sight.

The actors—blow-dried, blandly attractive, barely distinguishable—deliver their starchy lines with vacant earnestness, and the overall effect is strongly evocative of porn with the sex edited out. Keitel's screenplay is certainly thinly plotted enough to qualify. Griff, it turns out, has little cause for worry. He finds a confidante in a female classmate who also happens to be sexually confused, and just about everyone, including his superstraight-jock best friend, is in the end fabulously supportive—not, I suspect, to demonstrate that these are indeed enlightened times we live in but because any serious signs of conflict or emotional distress would prove too much of a strain on the pitifully two-dimensional script and actors.

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