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Boys On Film: Protect Me From What I Want



81I5Gyh5A4L__SL1500_Released: 2010

Shorts Directed By: David Bonneville, Eldar Rapaport, David Fardmar, Dominic Leclerc, Grimur Hakonarson, Peggy Rajski, Simon Steuri

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Timothy Breach

Another collection of short films of varying length, style, genre and country of origin. All these shorts are brought together under the LGBT+ banner and are linked in one way or another to the title: Protect Me From What I Want.

The previous collections have been linked more thematically than through story, but in this collection the shorts are more linked by the plot point of the protagonist/antagonist wanting something which has the potential to be damaging. It sounds overly simplified when looked at like that, and almost generic or cliche, but it’s a common thread nonetheless. As you might have guessed, this is related to sexuality and the desire for another, desire to come out or desire to be accepted. I’m sure that it is something we have all experienced at some point (not necessarily related to sexuality).

A bonus to actually buying the DVD and watching it as a collection (as opposed to ILLEGALLY streaming them individually) is that you get a nice introduction to the first short from Ellen. Yes. Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most prominent LGBT+ figures out there. Why can’t I be Ellen?

So lets get to the first short; Trevor.The thing that stands out to me is that despite coming out over two decades ago, it’s as poignant today as it was back then. Maybe not so much in the UK, but definitely so in some parts of the world. Trevor addresses the notion of conformity to a society through suppression of sexuality; or in plain English, pretending to be straight because certain religions tell you that being gay is wrong. This is an area which I’m sure many of you have strong views on and thankfully there has been progress with this issue. However there are still some horrific atrocities happening in the world and some people are forced through extreme measures to renounce who they truly are. What makes all of this surprisingly digestible is the fact that it is from the perspective of a young boy and is rather light hearted; it’s frank but its not melodramatic. This also makes it more hard-hitting in some ways and opens up a window to a world which many of us are detached from. This isn’t a call to arms, but I think that there are too many within the LGBT+ community in certain parts of the world who are complacent in the knowledge that they are safe and free to be who they want to be. I’ll move on before I become preachy…

Protect Me From What I Want (from which the collection takes its title) in some ways compliments Trevor from a contemporary British point of view and one that focuses on raw drama. Beneath Saleem’s story of… discovery… that just doesn’t feel right, it’s more a story of accepting who he is, but beneath it is very much the same conflicts we saw in Trevor in regards to religion and family. What is nice about it however is that it’s not focused on in an overly dramatic way; it is hinted at, which works wonderfully for a short. What was also refreshing was how the sex was filmed and the sexual acts depicted themselves. Gay sex tends to be extreme, intense and in your face, but there was a sensuality to what happened before the sex which makes it refreshing, real and believable (it’s not a drug fuelled orgy). This leaves you feeling hopeful for a happy ending. “Just turn around…” Oh it gets me every time. And on a side note it stars Elliott Tittensor of Shameless fame. We all love a bit of eye candy!

The notion of religion conflicting with sexuality continues into Steam, which is difficult to truly grasp; there’s an ambiguity which leaves you questioning where they actually were. Clue: it’s not a steam room, well it is and it isn’t, you’ll see. I’m sure that we’ve all heard of what happens in saunas and steam rooms (some of you may have tried it) and that provides the starting point to this story of anxiety, reflection and ultimately fear. I don’t want to say too much about it because it may ruin the chilling ending. I think it’s best to stop there because I hate spoilers, but it makes for tense viewing.

With Heiko we move away from religion and conformity towards the realm of fetish; which tends not to fit in with societies ideas of normal behaviour. Eroticism and fetishism aren’t every day parts of my life (even if they were, this review would not be the place to discuss them) and this disturbing short, though not graphic, may prove a justification for that; some people take the extreme a little too far. It’s simplistic in its approach and plot, but not necessarily bad for it. It focused on the one plot line it wanted to show and boy did it show it. Quick question; what part of your body do you think people most desire? What sums up this short quite comically is the following: “A carefree young man really puts his foot in it with his obsessive older lover.” It’s not something I’d watch over and over but in my horror loving mind it’s something I could see being adapted into a series and I’m sure there are plenty of real-life stories to serve as inspiration.

Away from all the crazed fetishes and back to a young boy exploring his sense of identity. Zucht, you could say, is a tale of unrequited love. The difference being that the boy is 12 and he loves his friends dad (she of course fancies him though). It is effectively simple and sweet in its innocence. At its core its more about a boy learning to express his feelings of love rather than coming to terms with his sexuality; he doesn’t want the dad because he’s a man, he simply cannot help how he feels. This got me thinking back to when I was 12 and on the cusp of discovering my own sexuality. I cannot recall ever being attracted to any of my friend’s dads, but I can resonate with the attraction to someone older; just not that old. Whether you have experienced something similar or not, Zucht is presented in such a way that makes you truly feel and understand Erik’s exploration, confusion, thoughts, feelings and actions.

Things were going so well and then Postmortem happened. To me it lived up to its name in ways I’m sure wasn’t intended; it was like a dead body, all rigid and cold, It dragged. The pace was far too slow and as a result, personally un-enjoyable. It’s touted as a fleeting moment between ex lovers but it was uneventful. Not awful but not good.There are glimpses into beautiful ‘what if’ moments during the sex scene (which didn’t stand out for me either) but then everything returns to normal. There is no change. There is little conflict or resolution. It left me feeling empty. Maybe you’ll see more in it than I did, but it is the worst in the collection.

Vandalen is anti-social, not just in the notion that the love story is going against what society believes is right, but also in the fact that it deals with graffiti. The grittiness of it all is rather beautiful. Nothing is bubble-wrapped and their certainly isn’t pink splashed everywhere. The cinematography, style and tone could be described as depressing but it works wonderfully with the message that the film is trying to convey. The characters are outcasts among outcasts. Their life’s are hard and the film shows us the difficulty they’re having with balancing their love for each other with their passion for art. It may be visually dark but there is a very satisfying ending to look forward to – is that a spoiler?

When you think of Iceland, what do you picture? Prawn rings? Kerry Katona? Of course I don’t mean that one, I’m talking about the nation that gave us Björk. Okay, so now think of wrestling; I bet you’re picturing hot men in lycra all over each other, right? Snap out of it. I for one had no idea that there was such a thing as ‘Icelandic wrestling’. Well Bræðrabylta is a story of two men who practice Icelandic wrestling to escape their daily routine but little do the spectators know that they’re actually madly in love. So much so that it could probably melt the ice caps! It is thoroughly unique in all its essence and everything beautifully comes together from the setting, the story, the emotion right through to the performances. It’s truly a tale that shows that gay love is more than a sexual act and it does so with warmth, truth and sincerity. This is a warning; tissues may be needed, and that’s for eye emissions, nothing else.

So how do you follow an almost perfect tale of love? With something heartbreaking of course, and my favourite of the collection; My Name Is Love. No matter how many times I watch it, My Name Is Love still gets me. Adam Lundgren gives such a beautiful, real, performance that I have to credit him in this review. I must also applaud David Färdmar (writer and director) for getting the most out of every word on the page and every ounce of energy his actors had. So how do I sum it up without giving it away, but still making you want to watch it. What if you had a big secret and by chance you stumble across someone who has the same secret? But what if they were handling the secret differently to you and thus acted differently? What if something happens based on this shared secret that can be life destroying for the both of you but for different reasons? Has that whet your appetite? Well I hope it has because this short is amazing, and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it more emotive and imbues the story and characters with depth. If you watch only one film from this collection, make it this.

Woah, and there goes another collection; Boys on Film 4. Our romp through LGBT+ cinema will have to wait till next week. Well I feel like we’re going on a journey together and I hope that you’re enjoying it. So what do I make of Protect Me From What I Want as a whole? It’s darker and grittier than the previous collections, that’s for sure. The light-heartedness of Trevor soon descended into real, raw and rough tones and style. And, despite the lapse of Postmortem, the collection holds up well together. American Boy may have been great for it’s diversity but Protect Me From What I Want narrowly surpasses it for truly moving me.

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