I am reviewing only one of the short films in this collection, THE BEST MEN, Tony Wei's exquisitely sensitive portrayal of lifelong devotion and heartache.
The premise is simple. Peter, an old boyhood friend of Joe, the groom to be,is joining the family for the wedding. Utilizing only two sets, Peter's hotel room, and the rooftop reception, we learn of a lifetime of love, mostly unstated, between the two men. It is obvious that Peter has been in love with Joe all his life and now all he can ask him is, "Are you happy? I want you to be happy." Joe never answers.
What is implied ever so subtly, but never stated, is a mutual loving relationship, from which Joe chose the straight life, leaving his gay friend behind. An embrace, an almost kiss. A beautifully written script that says it all without saying it once, illusions to scars and secrets, a song, Forever Is Now, that gently rocks the heartbreak under the credits.
The direction is extremely sensitive and assured. The cinematography is intimate and beautifully composed. All the players (Jason Yarusi as Joe, Anna Moore as his inquisitive sister, and Virginia Thomas as his wise and all-knowing mother) are fine, perfectly cast and perfectly embodying the characters.
But it is Michael Ellison as Peter, who stands out. His face in repose is incredibly beautiful but suffused with all the emotion that cannot be expressed, it becomes iconic. This is one of the most heartbreaking performances I've ever seen - a perfect gem of inner longing and the realization of now being forever shut out of a life together with the man he loves.
The other films in this collection range from poor to average, but it is THE BEST MEN that will carry the sales of this DVD. No gay home should be without it. Invite your straight friends over to watch it as well and keep the Kleenex handy.
Bravo to all, especially to Wei and Ellison!
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