I Want Your Love
I have mixed feelings about Travis Matthews’ new film, "I Want Your Love." On the one hand, the acting is some of the most natural in a gay film since Andrew Haigh’s "Weekend." The main premise - a gay man named Jesse has decided to move back home to Ohio after ten years in San Francisco and has mixed feelings about it - is familiar and relatable. Matthews is a lovely filmmaker with an intimate eye for lighting and composition. His script is not overloaded with cliché or earnestness and actually made me ponder its meaning after its brief 71-minute running time ended.
My confusion is the inclusion of graphic sex scenes that can come across as a gimmick rather than truly being artistic expression. While the sex is well lit and shot, when I say "graphic" I mean - we see ejaculations, oral sex, rimming, and anal penetration. Not simulations, mind you; the real deal. They are basically well-filmed porn scenes.
While this will certainly get seats in the theatres (or guys to rent the film in the privacy of their own homes), I’m still confused as to the point. The sexual aspect (when appropriate) still could have been shown without it being actual sex. While some of it was titillating for sure, it took me out of the film. I wondered -"what will their friends and family think?" "Would I want everyone seeing my erection?" "What I look like having sex?" "Are these all amateur porn stars that are just good actors?" "Why did they think graphic sex was necessary for the movie to work?"
I will say that the refreshing part of this aspect of the film is that the sex is realistic. There is laughing and playfulness. There is talking and awkwardness. There is uncertainty and regret. There is abandon. This is what real sex is, not the freshly scrubbed and emotionless choreography you see in regular pornography. For that, I appreciated it. But to be included in what was a refreshingly honest and insightful film? I don’t know.
As a result, when the sex would start, it would pull me farther away from what was a nicely intimate story about a man whose life would be forever changing. And his decisions during his last day in San Francisco - regarding his going away party, a chance sexual encounter, and his ex-boyfriend - were all very honest and real. In fact, the last scene was the most profound. Because while it seems like a film about losing a life he has known for ten years, suddenly it became about a man finally figuring out what was actually real and realizing that leaving was probably the best thing he could do. It was a little bit of brilliance in a gorgeously made film.
I just still really don’t know about the sex. I’m not a prude. I even fell in love and lust with the adorable average-Joe lead Jesse Metzger. But did I need to see him getting a blowjob? For a movie that I want to truly immerse myself in emotionally, I’m not sure that was the most effective thing to do. I don’t know. It’s certainly something worth discussing with others who see it, if not the filmmakers themselves.
So I guess the question is: is "I Want Your Love" worthy of your time? If you’re not uncomfortable with watching graphic sex on screen with a room full of strangers... Yes. There is so much in there that is beautifully done. For a lot of guys, they will be turned on by the sex. (And there is literally something for everybody - adorable white guy, slender twink, frenetic black guy, cuddly bear, artsy Asian, older hipster guy, and hard body Latino - at least I think he was Latino.) For others, it will be Jesse’s torment over leaving that will be compelling for you. Whatever your reason for going, there will be something in there to appreciate. It will certainly get people talking and does harken a truly gifted filmmaker in Matthews.
This article is part of our "Reel Affirmations 2012" series. Want to read more?
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