tla releasing, which is the foreign art-house film DVD division of LGBT video giant tla video, continues its tradition of overall tasteful tales of 20-something boys coming to terms with their sexuality and lives with the 2015 Argentinian drama "Jess & James." The eroticism in this one is toned down in favor of plot.
The following YouTube clip of the "Jess" trailer provides a strong sense of the sensual with an almost complete lack of equally present story.
Our titular young offenders first meet for a somewhat violent (and somewhat consensual) wham-bam-thank-you-dude session that clearly defines their relationship at that stage of its development. The boys then return to their unhappy lives; Jess is feeling intense pressure to marry the daughter of a wealthy man, and James lives with an extremely bitter mother who takes her unhappiness out on him.
James subsequently intruding on Jess during an intimate moment with said girlfriend greatly compounds what is already an incredibly awkward form of outing; the general rule in the gay world is that a casual encounter is an anonymous one-afternoon stand.
This reunion leads to our heroes effectively stealing a car and heading out for a road trip across rural Argentina. A stop along a country road early in this journey does a good job teasing the audience in expecting some cornholing in a field.
The proverbial meaningful encounter/turning point comes roughly halfway in the trip. An impoverished Jess and James enter a cafe with thoughts of committing a dine-and-dash when adorable waiter Tomas (who is unaware of that intent) offers them free meals. This leads to Tomas showing the boys around town and putting them up in the home that he shares with his father. Frankly, the interloper is cuter and more charming than either perfectly attractive and appealing lead.
A scene from this portion of the film is one of the cutest in the movie and establishes the father of Tomas as a very cool dad. Our three young men are lounging around the bedroom of Tomas looking through magazines and discussing which male celebrities they find attractive. One can easily imagine high school girls doing the same.
An afternoon at the beach finds the three boys clad in European-style swimwear dancing, lounging, and flirting, This leads to a more intimate moment that is a relatively long time coming (no pun intended).
The next memorable encounter is in the form of a middle-aged woman who very quickly invites the young offenders to stay with her on their showing up at their door. This odd behavior makes a subsequent confrontation only partially surprising. The cause of that conflict also creates a rift between our titular 20-somethings.
The final leg of the journey before requiring that Jess and James make important life decisions has the former reuniting with his estranged brother. A family scandal years ago is the cause of that rift, and the siblings have quite a bit to discuss. At the same time, a common experience with their parents helps them understand what the other is experiencing. A really cute scene between the brother and James makes every gay boy wish for a older brother like him.
All of this adds up to a perfectly enjoyable film to which many people all along the Kinsey scale can relate. Two people who couple do not always feel the same level of affection toward each other at the same time; many of us feel pressure to enter relationships for reasons other than love, and we all have mothers. Fortunately, most of our female parents do not shout nasty things at us through the door as we are engaged in achieving self-pleasure.
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