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BahmanG Written by BahmanG
Jul. 19, 2011 | 12:38 AM





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Outfest-ECupid

ECupid is about a couple, Gabe and Marshall. As Marshall reflects on his upcoming thirtieth birthday and on his seven-year relationship with Gabe, who he has dated since college, he begins to evaluate his life. He ponders whether his life has become stagnant and wonders whether there might not be something better. He begins to look at the profiles of his friend’s friends on a social network site. ECupid, which in the film is the name of a new dating software that can G.P.S. your true love, examines how our new technology promises the potential of intimacy, but more often it creates isolation. In an early scene, for example, Gabe and Marshall are home, sitting next to but completely disconnected from one another, each absorbed into his cell phone and laptop.


This is not the first time J.C. Calciano, the director and screenwriter, has explored love and technology in the gay community. His previous film, Is It Just Me?, which played at last year’s Outfest, focused on Blaine, a dorky-cute twenty-something gay man, who has difficulty getting dates, until he makes a genuine and deep connection with another gay man through a online dating site. The problem is that he used the photo of his blatantly handsome roommate for his dating profile and his interactions with his date have been through the telephone, only. Calciano uses technology to ask the bigger question of what connects and sustains two people in a relationship.


The themes he sets up are genuinely groundbreaking and brave. Calciano criticizes with subtlety the (supposed) prevalence in the gay community to pursue physical attraction over commitment, though commitment promises a deeper, more enduring connection. In ECupid, the different men—the jock, the boy next door, the sexy co-worker—represent the prototypical sexual fantasies of Marshall (and of gay men in general), but none of them can hold up to what is real in Marshall’s life: Gabe, his partner of many years (In Is it Just Me? the soon to be couple’s phone conversations are depicted with depth, in contrast to the purely physical attraction of two other characters). Both films, from a single’s and a couple’s perspectives, argue that that love and commitment are worthier than the fantasy of love, more enduring than fleeting physical attraction.


Calciano, however, does not develop these ideas with enough ambition. He needed to delve into what it means to be in a seven-year relationship but not have the right to get married. For the things that have kept Gabe and Marshall together are different from what has kept straight couples together. Gay relationships require different support than the legal and social support provided to straight relationships. What, then, does commitment mean in a gay relationship? Galciano hints at these themes but doesn’t explore them inquisitively. He attempt to create subtlety by assuming his audience has already pondered these inequities, but Galciano is wrong. Judging by gay men’s reluctance to question why they won’t hold hands in Los Angeles (incidentally, the city of both movies), too many of us have accepted the daily injustices as we have the traffic on the 405—the norm.


Essentially, ECupid is a sweet, cute, romantic comedy that would have made a good TV movie—on, say, the Hallmark Channel—if the world weren’t homophobic. The movie also features the performance of Morgan Fairchild as a compassionate waitress. Her scenes, along with the rest of the movie, are truly sweet in their own way. Perhaps not a bad choice for a lazy Sunday.


 


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