At last! A gay love story for the rest of us! Fresh onto DVD from Margin Films and Add-Word Productions comes Big Gay Love, writer-director Ringo Le’s stylish masterpiece about finding love that’s more than skin deep.
Starring Jonathan Lisecki (writer-director and star of the comedy Gayby) Ann Walker (from Sordid Lives, and Southern Baptist Sissies) and Nicholas Brendon (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the film version of Psycho Beach Party), the movie crackles with witty one-liners. But underneath, this is a genuinely poignant and fast-moving story that’s acutely identifiable, particularly to anyone who may not look like an Abercrombie & Fitch model.
In fact, this film gets better every time you watch it, thanks largely to deep and empathetic performances from Lisecki and Brendon.
Brendon, who also co-produced the film, says his interest in Big Gay Love started even before he had read the script.
“It was a bunch of things that really drew me to the script,” he said. “I love what it had to say … and when I did read it, I really liked the way it was written.”
When he went in to audition opposite Lisecki, Brendon said, there was an instant connection between them as well. “We just had such great chemistry,” he said. “And Ringo, too, was great.”
Although Brendon is straight (in October he married actress Moonda Tee), he said he had no qualms about portraying Andy and emphasized that he’s long been an avid supporter of the LGBT community.
“We had a very big gay and lesbian following on Buffy and you know, I’ve played gay before,” he said.
It never hurts to have strong allies, and Brendon happily considers himself one of our strongest. (“Everyone deserves to be happy,” he said.)
To marginalize these observations would not only be doing a great disservice to the man as an actor, it would also be blunting the universality of the insights offered by Le’s story.
“I think finding the right relationship is more of a ‘human’ condition than a gender or sexuality thing,” explains Brendon. “I think when you find the one you’re supposed to be with, it all works out. And when you find that right person, anything’s possible!”
One thing the actor admits with some chagrin, though, is that he initially found doing the love scenes a little challenging, but not for the reasons one might suspect.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s straight or if it’s gay,” he said, “I think love scenes in general are kind of tough. There’s just always a heightened insecurity.”
Looking back on the finished work, he counts these scenes as what he’s most proud of.
“It was a love story,” he said, “and I just wanted to approach it like it was a regular love story only with another guy — Bob.”
Lisecki does an awesome job playing Bob as a gay everyman. At 40, he’s a portly, bow-tie-wearing party planner, and although he’s on the verge of buying his own home, he hasn’t been as successful in finding love.
“Can’t you just be yourself?” Bob’s weary friends ask him. “Being myself is the last thing anybody wants,” he answers.
These same friends, who are gorgeous themselves, even go so far as to recommend that he see a plastic surgeon. (“It saved our relationship,” they declare.)
Complicating things further is Walker as Bob’s former U.S.O. showgirl mother, who is desperately trying to recreate her glory days. (It also doesn’t help that she once told him he was an orphan she found in Vietnam while touring there with Bob Hope.)
Bob may be a little on the neurotic side, but he’s sweet-natured, and despite everything, he absolutely refuses to give up on love. That’s what makes him so endearing.
One night at a party that he’s organizing, Bob meets a handsome catering assistant. Played by Brendon, Andy is a would-be chef with plans to write his own cookbook. Trouble is (at least to Bob’s way of thinking), Andy’s so fit and good-looking that our boy’s fractured mindset leads him into some self-sabotaging behavior that would try the patience of a saint. (“I never believed I deserved someone like you,” Bob tells Andy after his actions threaten to chase Andy away.)
“I think a lot of people are that way, really” Brendon said about such actions, again underscoring how Bob and Andy really do care about one another. “I think that’s why the film has struck such a chord. I think, at least some of the time, more people are self-sabotaging than aren’t!”
In a scene that subtly highlights the LGBT community’s recent progress, Bob meets with his real estate agent to check out a house in a Los Angeles area bedroom community.
“Homeownership is the perfect test of commitment for any new couple,” she tells him, only to find that he’s single. Shortly afterward, they’re interrupted by a “gentrified” gay couple played by Jason Stuart and Drew Droege, who are out for a walk with their child. Almost immediately, this more-settled pair takes exception to Bob’s uncoupled status, suggesting that he might not be suitable for such a family-oriented street.
“I think it’s great that Ringo specifically makes the point that it doesn’t matter if you’re a gay couple or a straight couple,” Brendon said. “This scene has nothing to do with sexuality — it has more to do with status. It could’ve been a heterosexual movie where it would have been a heterosexual couple saying the same thing, so it was more about couples — and people in general — but it shows just how nonchalant most people are now to find a gay couple — and gay parents — in a modern suburban neighborhood. It was great to see it here.”
Ultimately, the movie tells us that anything you want to be is inside of you and that all you need is a little love to “make that passion grow.” Although the ending is purposefully kept a bit ambiguous, this, too, suits Brendon fine.
“I think it’s just as well to let the audience do the work in the end,” he said. “I think the way Ringo did it is the perfect way, leaving the couple a little room to grow on.”
And this certainly is one couple you’ll be rooting for — just ask any of the eager viewers who made Big Gay Love the hit of last summer’s film festival circuit.
“Audience response has been really great — it’s been super, super positive,” Brendon said. “I hope a lot more people see it, but more importantly, see the message in it — and I think the fans of ‘Buffy’ will especially love this.”
Released through Canteen Outlaws (the new label from TLA Releasing) Big Gay Love is now available at all major video outlets, including TLA Gay.”