The Last Straight Man (2014)

Director:Mark Bessenger Producer:Cliff Van Koppenhagen Screenplay by:Mark Bessenger  Music by:Rossano Galante  Cinematography:Matthew Grace Edited by:Mark Bessenger Running time:110 min Country:USA Language:English

Genre:Comedy, Drama, Romance  Subtitle:none Starring: Mark Cirillo ... Lewis, Scott Sell ... Cooper,

David Alanson Bradberry ... Berney, Marisa Serrano ... Housekeeping,Blake Harrison ... Belinda, Shane Fenske ... Cooper''s son, 

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    Lewis is a closeted gay man throwing a bachelor party for his straight best friend and secret crush, Cooper. After a night of drunken sex together, the two men decide to meet in the same hotel suite on the same night each year to hook up and catch up. Over the course of twelve years, we see four additional nights that depict how the two men grow and how their friendship changes.


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Rhode Island International Film Festival 2015

Alternative Spirit Award
Grand Prize
Mark Bessenger (director) 

TLA Gaybies 2015

TLA Gaybie
Best Gay Comedy
Mark Bessenger 
Sexiest Gay Movie or Series
Mark Bessenger 

I have to say when I read the synopsis for The Last Straight Man I was a little concerned. It all seemed a tad gimmicky, with the kind of ambition that few low-budget, gay-themed movies can live up to. Thankfully though I was pleasantly surprised when I actually saw the movie.

There arent many gay films that open with a scene in which a female stripper is dancing for a bunch of guys indeed youd think it was anathema for this type of flick but its Coopers (Scott Sell) bachelor party and so strippers are the order of the day. At the end of the evening Cooper is left with his best friend Lewis (Mark Cirillo), talking about their lives and loves however Cooper doesnt know Lewis is bisexual (on his way to accepting hes gay), and when he admits that fact, Lewis is pleased that Cooper is surprised but not horrified.

Indeed, as the evening wears on, it turns out Cooper isnt too bothered at all, as while hes never messed around with a guy before, he ends up doing so with Lewis. This is the beginning of an annual event, where the two guys meet in a hotel to catch up and screw around. Its supposed to just be fun, but as we see four more of these evenings over the course of 12 years, it becomes clear that while both men initially want to keep it simple, it isnt that for either of them. Lewis cannot help but fall for his friend, while Cooper may wish it was just an escape from his wife and children, but theres undoubtedly a deep connection to Lewis.

Its a very entertaining film and manages to transcend its deliberately constrained set-up, allowing its five-nights-over-12 years setup to feel organic rather than pretentious. The script is smart and keeps you pulled in, with Scott Sell and Mark Cirillo extremely good in the central roles of two men trying to figure out both themselves and their sexuality as well as how our actions may not match the labels we like to use if we go by the dictionary definition.

There is admittedly the potential issue that two people who start having sex just before one of them gets married and then continue the affair for another decade, dont sound particularly sympathetic. However you cant help but start to root for them and their happiness, whether it involves Cooper and Lewis staying together or not. Both are on a difficult journey and as they challenge their boundaries they keep you on their side.

It doesnt hurt either that the film is very sexy. Both Sell and Cirillo spend a decent chunk of the film in the buff (with a few full frontal shots to keep penis-spotters happy), having sex and generally being pretty hot. What makes it work beyond just visual buffness is the chemistry between the two men, which is thanks to both the actors and the script. You can believe that these two people are genuinely good friends, and theres a level of trust and camaraderie on display that helps deepen the level of intimacy the film portrays. For example, when Cooper decides he wants to try bottoming, you know he probably wouldnt do this with anyone else (even if the actual encounter doesnt quite go as planned).
I really did enjoy The Last Straight Man far more than I expected to, with the movie delivering an entertaining story, plenty of sexiness and two characters its extremely interesting to get to know. It may obviously have been made on a shoestring, but it handles its limitations extremely well. Saying its Before Sunrise meets Brokeback Mountain would be rather hyperbolic, but you can certainly feel the echoes.

Overall Verdict: Thanks to a well-written script and the very sexy Scott Sell and Mark Cirillo, The Last Straight Man is a film that could have seemed a bit gimmicky but turns out to be entertaining, fun and rather racy.

Reviewer: Tim Isaac

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