Thursday, 23 September 2010

An Unexpected Delight

George and I often have the problem of what to choose when browsing the shelves at Blockbuster. The simple truth of being a couple wanting to spend time with each other but not having the finances to have grand evenings out, or time to go away that often, is that the film industry becomes your best friend. A simple way to experience something new together or share a favourite of yours that your other half may not have enjoyed yet.

Having differing tastes in film makes the pickings rather slim. So after a very long day in which I had worked away in Oxford, I was in the mood for simple, easy watching comedy. George picked up something he had spotted on a previous visit and suggested it. This film was Humpday. There was a single copy on the shelf; four-star reviews from various mainstream film magazines on the front sleeve, and the tag line read ‘How far would you go?’ I have to say, I had fairly low expectations, but along with a couple of other titles we decided to just give it a shot for the sake of ease and speed.

The basic premise behind the film is two guys who reunite after a long period of time after they finished college together. Ben has in the mean time found a steady job and gotten married. Andrew, an aspiring artist, has been travelling across the globe finding bits of work along the way.  After ending up at a crazy party full of artists and sexually liberal hippies, the free spirited friend drags along the straight-laced family man. As it transpires, they end up having a few too many drinks and decide upon making a piece of art together; a piece of art that will consist of these two friends, both seemingly heterosexual males, having sex with each other on film.

Now this seems like a pretty typical American comedy with hilarious consequences; a tale of bromance if you will, in league with the likes of I Love You, Man. However, about twenty minutes in, George and myself were both wondering how it is that the film actually gets to the topic of porn? It is shot in a kind of documentary style, with some unconventional and unsteady camera angles. Some of the transitional shots in between scenes were my favourite of the movie; simple and lingering clips of Ben’s house, such as a fruit bowl on a table and net curtains floating by an open window. As well as the shooting being much better than you expect, the same can be said for the acting, particularly that of Ben’s wife as she struggles to comprehend the entire concept of her husband becoming an amateur porn star, and quite rightly so!

So I got to the point where it struck me: hang on, is this film actually trying to make a point about something? I’m unsure as to what exactly this is yet, as most of this time whilst watching it you’re trying to let go of the preconceptions you made beforehand. I guess for the main part these two men are trying to prove to themselves that they’ve still ‘got it’. Ben likes to think that marriage hasn’t eliminated the prospect of his ever having wild nights again, and Andrew, having never done so before, is attempting to actually follow through and complete a piece of artwork. The two try and convince themselves that the only motive for their actions is to make an important and pioneering piece of film; two straight men having sex.

It could also be argued that the film in itself may be trying to be a piece of art, covered by the seemingly stereotypical comedy sleeve. Perhaps taking that stereotype and packaging it differently with stylistic, unconventional camera angles and more subtle acting. A quirky approach to the kind of film reaching its overkill limit.

Don’t get me wrong, it still has shades of Hollywood, and the sheer ridiculous nature of what they’re trying to do has some really funny moments. You have to watch it all the way through. Firstly, to find out whether they actually go through with it or not. Secondly, to see my favourite scene which is the final ten seconds before the credits roll. It’s simple, natural and sums it all up. Don’t be put off by the awful title!

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