"Petunia" is an intelligent and engaging journey of a family lacking love, sex and restraint. Christine Lahti is the matriarch and defining force of the family. Her overbearing ways and experimental "destructive therapy" have left her with three sons aching for love and an absentee husband (David Rasche).
Charlie Petunia (Tobias Segal), the youngest son, is gay, celibate and hyper-sensitive. Eddie Kaye Thomas plays Michael, an equally emasculated brother who is married to a no-nonsense lush (Thora Birch). Their brother, Adrian (Jimmy Heck) is a sex addict with an obsession for women.
When Charlie falls for his neighbor, George (Michael Urie) the entire families issues begin to bubble over partly facilitated by Georges gym-obsessed wife (Brittany Snow). Their issues slowly send them into a tailspin that will either make them stronger or tear them apart.
Writer/director Ash Christian manages to capture a unique perspective on sex. He manages to focus on the intimacy rather than the act. Some of stolen kisses, tender moments and scandalous storylines, sans graphic nudity, manage to scintillate the mind. Overall, sex is an important part of a relationship but all the other communication, feeling and expression are what make relationships real.
Tobias Segal is able to embody an innocent child-like neuroticism that makes him lovable. Brittany Snow is also able to convey a hardened vulnerability. Christina Lahti encompasses the true meaning of the term "pain in the ass mother." Michael Urie also manages to bring back some "Ugly Betty" magic with his insane ability with one-liners.
"Petunia" is a smart take on the romantic comedy. It manages to explore real relationships, their success and failures and their importance in our lives. Everyone needs someone special but they also need to learn to give and accept love.
This film is a must-see because it manages to take a movie about a lot of romantic relationships and inserts unapologetic heart and sensitivity without a trace of irony. "Petunia" will definitely take a night at a film festival to a whole new level.
This article is part of our "Out On Film Atlanta - 2012" series. Want to read more?
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