A gay re-telling of Charles Dickens' classic Oliver Twist. Updated to current times, moved out of the poor house and onto the streets, the tale is told from the point of Dickens' character, Artful Dodger--now Dodge. The prosaically beautiful Oliver falls into the hands of down-and-out young men. Dodge takes the young man under his wing and instructs him in the unforgiving arts of drug abuse and prostitution. As Oliver's innocence dissolves, both young men confront inner and outer demons and, strangely, it is Dodge who finds he cannot escape his past. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
What an original title for my comment. It was what I thought of in a pinch. Anyway . . . the film is based on Oliver Twist, using basically, only the name of the characters and their abject living conditions to parlay a story about male hustlers and their life in Toronto.
The atmosphere created is pitch-perfect, and the audience really gets the feel of the weather in Toronto during winter. It's dark, damp and freezing cold, much like the the world the boys live in. And in the hollowed eyes of the hustlers, you can feel their hopelessness and exhaustion.
It is told in the view point of Dodge, rather than Oliver, and focuses on his life. Dodge is played by Nick Stahl, who does a great job of evoking the scared, hungry, cold and insecure young boy, who has seen too much. Joshua Close plays Oliver, who seems a little too one-dimensional for my liking, but is really effective in scenes with Stahl (especially the alley scene), perhaps a testament to Mr. Stahl's talents.
The film is definitely disturbing. There is no sugarcoating, and yet, there is no sex in the film, only mild violence. Most is left to the audience's imaginations, even the face of the Bill character, who plays the "pimp" in the film. His anonymity may have been used to increase the scariness of the character and his intentions, but almost became a shtick in my eyes, especially after his deplorable actions after finding out his "woman" had betrayed him. Bill was almost too bad to be a "real bad guy."
The lines are blurred between affection, power, violence and sexual need, perhaps most effectively in the one scene, it is all mixed up into one degrading act for Dodge. Some might have found it grotesque or perverted or used for shock value. However, I found it necessary to understand Dodge's actions and his character. It also helps to underline the pervasive cycle of abuse.
The ending is dark and bleak, and full of symbolic undertones. There are many questions left unanswered. I found the film to be very engaging, bittersweet and a good portrayal of how love is the most complicated emotion of all.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?