DVD Review - Leather - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DVD Review - Leather

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Patrick McGuinn's film is one that values country living over city living. It values rugged, hairy manliness over soft, smooth effeminacy.

Broadway star Andrew Glaszek plays Andy, a ginger beefcake and NYU grad of indeterminate profession who essentially has to choose between his childhood friend, Birch, played by Chris Graham, and his current boyfriend, Kyle, played by Jeremy Neal.

Birch is a well-built, bearded, hirsute, mountain man who very much lives off the woods and who specializes in crafting things like leather sandals. He seems very much heterosexual. Kyle is a petite, hairless twink who is into fashion, and in a Truman Capote or James Bond villain-move, Kyle carries around his pet rabbit. Kyle is almost stereotypically gay. Yes, Kyle is girly, whereas Birch is butch. Kyle is a city girl, whereas Birch is a country boy.

The majority of the movie takes place in what might be a weekend. When Andy's father, Walter, dies, Andy and Kyle go to Walter's house in the woods to settle things and find that Birch has been living in the house for five years as Walter's caretaker. Andy's choice seems apparent. Yet, because the choice is a no-brainer and is the most predictable thing ever, screenwriter Greg Chandler doesn't make the love triangle the principal conflict. The principal conflict is that Walter was possibly homophobic and not a good father to Andy, but Birch continues to champion Walter as a changed person and a good man. Therefore, the tug of war is if Andy will accept Birch's claim about his father.

This conflict, however, is never truly resolved. We assume by the end that Andy simply accepts Birch's word, but McGuinn never gives Andy a moment to make peace with his father's memory.

Yes, we accept that Andy and Birch will hook up and of course McGuinn depicts their sex scene in true rustic glory, essentially two naked men rolling in the grass. It's accentuated by McGuinn's choice to shoot on actual 16mm film, giving the whole movie a grainy, rustic look.

Unfortunately, there is a confusion of what Birch truly feels for Andy. Andy clearly loves Birch and says as much, but what Birch feels remains a mystery. We don't know if Birch reciprocates Andy's feelings or if he's just going along with the situation. Birch's relationship with a woman at the beginning is so fleeting that one wonders how attached he is. Birch doesn't even identify as either gay or straight or bisexual. He's just whatever. Birch as a character just floats.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.

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