Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stud Life

Stud Life, dir. CampbellX, 2012, UK, 80 min. 
Sunday 6/17, 7:00 @ Castro, STUD17C
Monday, 6/18, 9:30 @ Elmwood (Berkeley), STUD18E

Seb (Kyle Treslove) and
JJ (T’Nia Miller) in Stud Life
JJ is a black lesbian with so much “mad swagger and stone butch tendencies” that she sometimes almost comes across as macho. She lives with her best friend Seb, a slightly fem twink with a yen for rough trade. JJ’s day job is photographing weddings, gay and straight, with Seb assisting; by night, they go clubbing together, the complete lack of overlap in their sexual tastes enabling an easy camaraderie. But then JJ meets Elle, a sexy femme who immediately rubs Seb the wrong way, Seb tries to warn JJ that Elle is trouble, but JJ is resolute. Meanwhile, Seb has been brushing off the advances of “Smack Jack,” a low-level drug dealer who clearly hails from more privileged circumstances, as he pursues an online connection.

Stud Life breaks some new ground in terms of its setting, in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-gender London, in the east of the city rather than the more well-worn West End. As Campbell X put it, it breaks out of the mainstream attitude that “Oh, we’re all in one lovely bubble of assimilation and acceptance.” Unfortunately, it also falls into a number of clichés and predictable plot points in other respects, sending the characters into broadly telegraphed situations that are entirely too familiar, with a mishmash of rom-com tropes and episodic scenes with little to connect one to the next. Still, T’Nia Miller (a high femme in real life!) and Kyle Treslove have a fabulous chemistry together that saves the effort. One caution for American audiences, though: the East London slang and accents are occasionally a bit thick, so I’m guessing that the DVD release will have English subtitles for the benefit of non-Brits. Fun, worth seeing, Recommended.

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