QFLIX REVIEW – Beautiful Something

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

There have always been two types of gay cinema to me; there are the skin flix, heavy on synthized sex, lacking on plot and character development, and usually poorly produced. The other type is the skin-less flix, the ones that focus on character development and plot, but leaves me wanting the skin. I had the absolute pleasure of seeing, in my opinion, a film that masterfully combines both the aforementioned cinema types. Even the after party at Franky Bradley's was a drama-free, positive environment (read: not typical for opening nights) that allowed me to chat with the cast and crew and really pick their brains about the production.

"Beautiful Something," follows four men on their interlocking searches for love, sex, art, and identity within the City of Brotherly Love. The film was shot entirely in Philadelphia, as the city itself became a significant supporting character with its gritty-yet-enchanting byways of as a backdrop. At first, I thought I’d be distracted by recognizing the Phildelphia streets and bars, but it actually aided in making the story and characters feel more natural and plausible. Philadelphian industry veteran Kelly Burkhardt served as executive producer for the film, and from our chat, seemed to have a big hand in the location scouting. I tip my hat to her for her careful inclusion of some of Philly’s most notable locations, while also infusing settings I have never seen.

Directed by filmmaker/screenwriter Joseph Graham, he offers a lot of male skin, but also equal heart, as he explores centuries-old questions about mixing love with art and life. It was this blend that helped keep my attention during the screening. What struck me as most endearing was the realistic portrayal of gay men. For so long, I would scoff (albeit while laughing) at the over-dramatized, flaming men trying to “act” their way through a plot-line in Netflix’s "Gay and Lesbian" section. On the flip side, "Beautiful Something," was packed with characters I felt I could relate to. There were many story arcs that worked well alone and together, but I clicked particularly with one of the characters, Brian, played by Brian Sheppard. Yearning for something real but continuing to fill the void with tricks that don’t care to know his name, and worse don’t care about him post hook-up. We’ve all been in that “dark” place, and I found myself getting emotional every time the character got an emotional punch to the ego.

Producers and co-directors, Thom Cardwell and James Duggan, made a smart choice in opening QFlix with "Beautiful Something." This was my first time at a Film Festival and I’m hooked. I've moved some things around on my calendar to ensure I can take in more films this week! Complete schedule here – http://www.qflixphilly.com

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