On Friday, PJ and I watched Wrecked, a gay indy we rented from Netflix. Here’s the trailer:

Wrecked is about a would-be actor, Ryan, whose plans become derailed when his ex, Daniel, suddenly shows up and wants to crash at his house indefinitely. Although Ryan knows that Daniel is no good, he agrees to let him back into his life. When it becomes apparent that Daniel is still a drug addict and unable to commit to a monogamous relationship, Ryan has to decide whether to kick him out or jump right into Daniel’s drug-fueled sexual escapades. He chooses the latter, and his life quickly begins to spin out of control.

Theo Montgomery, which is apparently a pseudonym for actor Jake Casey, stars as Ryan. (PJ thinks that all of the actors on this movie used pseudonyms, but I don’t have time to confirm that right now.) I thought his performance was excellent. His Ryan has a winning mix of youthful gay attitude and innocence. I assume Casey and the other actors use fake names here because of the sexually explicit nature of this movie, and maybe they thought it would hurt their careers or embarrass their families or something.

And this film is sexually explicit. We see the four of the actors completely nude. They make out, feel each other up, get erections (which we see), feel each others erections up, and (presumably) simulate anal sex.

But Wrecked is not porn. While some of the oral activities seem real, the movie never shows actual penetration elsewhere (is that euphemistic enough?!). But I don’t think these scenes are really meant to be all that arousing, at least not in the way that porn is meant to be. Don’t get me wrong: seeing these actors make out, roll around together, get aroused, and simulate sex is definitely hot, but I don’t think anyone would ever confuse this movie for porn (except maybe crazy right-wing religious people who see gay porn in everything).

I really admire this film’s use of explicit sexual content. It has the effect of grounding the action and characters in a sense of reality. And I like that the sex scenes have a feeling of reality to them rather than the artificial feeling of many movie sex scenes, which are more interested in hiding genitalia than in capturing something that seems real and truthful.

Some of the publicity materials for this movie compare it to Shortbus, which is one of my favorite movies. But where you never forget you’re watching a fictional film when you watch Shortbus, Wrecked feels more like mumblecore or a documentary, like we’re eavesdropped on these guys’ “real” lives. I like that element of the film a lot. (I mean this as a description of its style and not its content, btw.)

Because of the sexual nature of this film, I think the actors are really brave to be in it. Obviously, the vast majority of actors in movies aren’t brave enough to show their full bodies, much less their bodies in a state of arousal. That these actors are able to do that and yet keep that part of the film secondary to their larger performances is really saying something about their acting, I think.

The film is an hour and 15 minutes long. I really liked the first hour and especially admired its edginess, its forging new cinematic ground, and its overall realistic style. But the last 15 minutes really disappointed me. Unfortunately, the movie descends into a totally predictable morality tale that just made me roll my eyes. This last part of the film is just too simple, too simplistic and cliched. And this stands in marked contrast to the first hour, which is anything but simple or simplistic.

Ultimately, I wish the directors, Harry and Bernard Schumanski, would have kept the courage of their convictions, so to speak, and made the last act as compelling, as new, and as interesting as the first hour. I admire what they were trying to do; I just wish they had taken the ending somewhere new and interesting as well.