“Just Say Love”
Two men, one gay and the other supposedly straight, meet on a park bench and they discuss their dreams, happiness and the future. When I originally reviewed this film a few years ago I said that it looks at two men being drawn to each other because of some kind of physical attraction and I asked if this constituted a relationship. The camera here goes into the minds and actions of Guy (Matthew Jaeger) and Doug (Robert Mammana) who are total opposites. While this is classified as a film, it is actually a stage play that has been filmed and what we see is the actual play itself. As we watch, we immediately see a sophistication that we do not often see in gay film.
Guy sits on a bench reading when Doug sits down next to him. Doug is a married construction worker who opens a conversation and the two eventually go home and have sex. We learn that Guy is a writer who dreams of having a lover and becoming a “house husband”. Doug, on the other hand, is the stereotypical good looking macho “straight” man who cheats on his wife with men. He eventually becomes a permanent “one night stand” for Guy. He was looking for sexual satisfaction from a gay guy and along came Guy. What began as a casual oral encounter becomes a regular thing for the two men. The idea of the film is simple–a human being is an individual that becomes something else when a new companion enters his life. Guy constantly reminds himself not to give in to Doug but he cannot help himself and when we reach the end of the film, everything ends up just too neatly and this is the one fault I find here. Like Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage” which I gather was the inspiration for this, “Just Say Love” is a collection of scenes from a relationship. Sexual coupling becomes something much deeper than just sex and we have the gamut of emotions thrown at us from the screen. I must add that the actors and acting are excellent. The film is minimalist both in screenplay and in sets and we concentrate on the two actors who speak to each other. I find this to be a stimulating film, one of the best I have seen, despite the ending and I hope that it is a sign of what we can expect from gay film in the future. “Just Say Love” makes “Another Gay Movie” look like a kindergarten exercise.
Adapted by writer David Mauriello from his stage play, “Just Say Love” is a stunning departure from the average stage-to-screen film. With simple sets on a dark sound-stage and just two actors, director Bill Humphreys and team have created a strikingly elegant, moving and satisfying film. At first we believe we are seeing a sexual, non-romantic relationship as it continues to the shock of both men. But when Doug’s girlfriend gives birth to their child, this once-simple relationship comes to an end. One never knows which way the human heart will turn.
The characters are very well written, and the actors provided rawness, depth, and unmistakable emotion as they wove this story to a climactic end. We are drawn into their simple lives; we see them become us—you and me. That’s right; who wouldn’t want a man of openness, raw needs, funniness……wouldn’t “physically” want such a man as Doug? Would anyone of us turn down a Guy’s perceptiveness, depth of feeling, and indefinable ability to draw us out of ourselves?
Bill Humphreys’ direction is very aware of the plays timbre and matches it wonderfully. The environment is just a stage set with suspended windows, half walls, and moody theatrical lighting. There is a complete lack of any natural ambient sound, mimed presences, and imagined props serve to add a sense of detachment from real life making the examination of living, lusting, and longing seem all the more engagingly academic.