By Amy Taubin in the March-April 2017 Issue
Control and emotional intensity are perfectly balanced in John G. Young’s bwoy, a minimalist indie in which action is largely mediated by phones and screens. The film is receiving a theatrical release, but it’s far more disturbing and queasily erotic to watch on your “personal” computer.
As in Young’s haunting debut feature, Parallel Sons (1995), and his elegant social satire The Reception (2005), drama develops in the intersection of race and gay sexuality. Brad (Anthony Rapp) is a buttoned- up, closeted middle-aged man, living in bleak Schenectady with his African-American wife (De’Adre Aziza). The two can barely speak to each other, and we discover from small early clues that Brad blames himself for the accidental death of their son. A former doctor, he now works in the phone bank of a credit card debt collection agency. At night, posing as a wealthy New York City businessman, he becomes embroiled in obsessive online sex with Yenny (Jimmy Brooks), a young Jamaican man with an irresistible smile and a body, if not to die for, then sufficiently alluring to engender the longing for a fantasized tropical paradise where “Daddy Brad” can fuck his “Jamaican Pussy Bwoy” in the flesh.
Young’s measured direction and editing and Rapp’s performance are extraordinary for showing how easily repression and guilt can create a dissociated fugue state where virtual and actual become indistinguishable.