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Tom Clay Jesus (2001)





Cast overview:
Scott Saffer ... Tom
... Clay
Miles ... Himself (as Miles the Cat)
Charles Kaiser ... Man from Bar


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Release Date:

16 June 2001 (USA)  »

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Featured in Boxer Shorts (2002) See more »

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Casual sex versus the true object of desire
21 December 2010 | by See all my reviews

How do we relate to our innermost desire? If true desire is inter-subjective, then how is the subject defined in regards to the other? "Tom Clay Jesus" attempts to give an answer or at least to rephrase that question; here the viewers observe not only the casual relationship between two men, but also the need for them to define the other and force him to fit into the dynamics of phantasmatic desire.

As Jacques Lacan explains in "Ecrits", the nature of the object of desire relies deeply on a most effective assertion: one's greatest desire is to be the object of desire of the other. In "Tom Clay Jesus", the lives of Tom and Clay get seemingly interwoven at first. There is a promise, a longing for an ideal that would henceforth consolidate a meaningful relationship. But as one could guess, ideals are not an easy item to come by, whether it is an abstract ideal or the ideal man.

Tom has casual sex with a number of guys and one of them happens to be Clay. Clearly Tom is primarily interested in sex, and although in good terms, he drifts away from Clay. This distance imprints a mark upon Clay, perhaps in the way Jacques Derrida refers to bearing no sexual mark. After all, here sex is not a life-changing experience, rather it's an expression of frustration or the anticipation of unsuccessful projects.

In one of the earliest conversations between the protagonists two lines are especially revealing: "I wanna see you", "You can feel me". To see and to feel carry a certain relevance that should not be omitted. To see is to concur with reality, to feel is perhaps to discern that which is behind reality and would constitute the Lacanian real. In either case, desire is mediated by this phantasmatic distortion that forces Tom to overlook his newfound partner and makes him to rapidly feel attraction towards Jesus, a bearded stranger he meets two months after the first scene.

When Tom fails to see beyond his phantasmatic obsession he disqualifies Clay as an option. But when Clay can relinquish this failed status, and in fact has the power to personify the very phantasm Tom so eagerly awaits, he also sees Tom under a new light. Perhaps then, the shifting of what Lacan denominates "object a" in regards to desire, eliminates the possibilities of a steady relationship.

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