British cinema’s attempts at capturing gay life in the country have had mixed results.
The complaint most often overheard in the bars and coffee shops of Soho is that they are either hyper-real or deeply depressing.
So when the press release for new flick Mr Right arrived, I was suitably under whelmed.
Set in Soho. Three gay couples and one straight pair. Hollyoaks actors. Love. Heartache.
Presumably drugs, unnecessary sex scenes, extreme campness, and lots of night clubs with the emphasis on gay men cruising each other.
So far, so Queer As Folk.
In fact, Mr Right proved to be something of a revelation. It barely went near the scene, Soho was just a background noise, and there was hardly any kissing, never mind gratuitous sex.
More than that, it was engaging and believable.
The stories of James, a disaffected TV producer, and his slowly maturing younger boyfriend, particularly resonated.
“Rugby player William’s nine-year old daughter, intent on sabotaging his relationships with new boyfriends,” is also very believably presented.
Some comic relief is provided by Lars, “a handsome sometime model kept by Tom, a successful artist, who will forgive his every betrayal so long as Lars doesn’t leave him.”
Then there is the straight couple, with the always popular Jeremy Edwards not having to stretch himself too much as an Arsenal-supporting geezer who has never met gay people and is thrown in at the deep end when he has to attend a catty dinner party.
Mr Right will be showing at the Prince Charles Cinema in London for the next two Thursday evenings, an early chance for Londoners to see the movie ahead of a more general release later this year.
The cast is uniformly excellent, with James Lance shining as TV producer Harry and Leon Ockenden bringing real vulnerability to his role as a brittle TV actor.
The most fun character is bad boy rent boy Lars, played by Benjamin Hart.
He certainly looks the part, and he will be remembered fondly by those who were fans of his Foz in Hollyoaks. He also played Adam Rhodes in Neighbours.
Hart told PinkNews.co.uk that “an ability to describe real life without heightened realism or talking about death, drugs or sequins” attracted him to the film.
“It is a story about love and I think that can appeal to anybody.”
While Mr Right avoids the usual clichés about gay life, Lars is the most like a “type” prevalent on London’s gay scene.
Perfect looking but black hearted, he treats his artist boyfriend like a cash machine and exudes a dangerous sexual power.
“Out of all the characters, Lars is one of the most devious,” says Hart.
“The villain is always fun to play.
“He was a complicated character. On the surface he epitomises that superficial gay hooker.
“They are the way they are because of something a bit deeper, and that is what makes the character interesting. ”
Hart insists that he did not base Lars on anyone.
“God forbid if I had!
“I created him in my head as somebody who needed to be loved. We all have our assets and he certainly knew what his were.
“The one thing he spent his life disposing of was the one thing he really needed – someone to look after him.”
Hart says Mr Right “really reminded me of This Life,” the iconic 1990s TV drama about young lawyers dealing with life, love and relationships.
“We want it to be one of those lovely things where somebody watches it and they tell somebody else.”
That “word of mouth” has already started to spread, though one area where it clearly differs from This Life is the absence of sex scenes.
This makes Mr Right a movie about gay love and relationships you can take your mum to.
“I do not think the movie needed to be sold on tanned bodies and shagging scenes. It is a beautiful love story that belongs to everyone,” explains Hart.
“It’s a very honest portrayal of the gay community today.
“I think a lot of gay people are sick of being represented by extremism and it is really nice for, say, middle England, to see a representation of how a gay couple functions.”
Hart fulfilled a personal ambition on Mr Right when he got to act with James Lance, who has made a name for himself in a range of eclectic roles in shows such as Moving Wallpaper; Absolute Power, Sensitive Skin and Teachers.
“He is one of my acting heroes – his technique and humour were amazing – and I had to kiss him, which was pretty full on!” laughs Hart.
Mr Right will be showing at the Prince Charles Cinema on 17th and 24th July.
To more information click here.