New in select theaters, DVD/BluRay and On Demand from Breaking Glass Pictures!
Directed by Joe Ahearne
Written by Joe Ahearne
Starring Sean Teale, Tom Bateman, Paul McGann, Callum Woodhouse, James Tratas, Mickey Lewis
Find out more about this film here
One of the things that I’m not a real fan of, no matter what the message, is cramming that message down one’s throat. A film about pro or con abortion that simply discourses about the pros or cons of abortion is boring and can feel preachy. And no one wants to be preached to. The filmmaker behind B&B fully understand that and not only did Joe Ahearne make a movie about the struggles of a gay couple attempting to live a normal life in world that may not be completely ready to accept them, but he also made a movie that relies on character and conflict to communicate the message rather than clunky discourse and finger pointing. This makes B&B one of the more engaging thrillers I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s a fantastic thriller that communicates the fears of a gay couple in a manner that resonates across sexual preferences and doesn’t feel like exists simply to preach to the choir.
Marc (Tom Bateman) and his new husband Fred (Sean Teale) have returned triumphantly to a bed and breakfast they sued for discrimination in an incident a year prior for not allowing them to sleep in a double bed. Innkeeper Josh (Paul McGann) reluctantly welcomes the couple back, though he does not keep his intolerance of the couple’s proclivity a secret. Meanwhile, Josh’s teenage son Paul (Callum Woodhouse) has recently realized that he was gay and urges Marc and Fred to leave so as not to stoke his father’s fury for homosexuals and make his life harder. But while Fred tries to be understanding, Marc does not want to let prejudice stop their victory lap granted to them by the courts and decides to stay. When a mysterious silent Russian arrives for the night, Marc thinks he is gay and is scoping the couple out. Fred feels the man is a threat, attracted to the bed and breakfast for more neo-Nazi/gay bashing reasons. When Paul leaves with the Russian after dark, Marc thinks it is for romantic reasons, but Fred thinks something worse is happening. The suspense is palpable as tensions between Paul’s intolerant father and the couple rise when Paul’s homosexuality is discovered by his father.
What B&B does masterfully is perfectly conceptualize all of the paranoid thoughts and fears one might have as a gay man in a society that may not accept him. Filmmaker Joe Ahearne is able to come up with multiple scenarios and character conflicts that exemplify fears of being outed, fears of being attacked by intolerant people, and struggles of being an outsider, all the while never forgetting to represent these people as characters and not mere representations of “the intolerant dad,” “the put-upon gay couple,” and so on. Across the board, these are characters with dimensions making (mostly) bad decisions along this plotline. This isn’t simply a gay=good/straight=bad style film, but one that shows the all of the characters making good/bad decisions and presenting good/bad character traits.
Because of this, Ahearne makes it hard to wholly hate Josh for his belligerence as other aspects of his life are shown. It’s hard to fully sympathize with Marc who chooses a more aggressive and in your face approach over Fred’s more passive stance on the courtroom win. It’s a film that really makes it difficult not to sympathize with every character involved in this suspenseful story. That fact is made easy since all of the acting involved is top tier, specifically Sean Teale’s Fred who is really just trying to keep the peace and Paul McGann’s Josh who is resentful of the gay couple in his inn and conflicted about his son’s homosexuality. Even the Russian is not a simple character and he only speaks Russian (with no subtitles given for us to understand what he is saying).
Hitchcockian is a word tossed around quite a bit, but it is the top level of praise one can give to a film attempting to convey an amount of suspense and tension. The level of tension achieved here is extremely high as bodies start to fall and what was intended to be a quiet weekend in the country becomes bloody and violent. I hope people who aren’t gay will want to check out B&B as it really does help convey the problems a gay couple has in a manner that doesn’t feel like it is condemning or judging straight culture in doing so. As a straight man, I appreciate that and fully recommend this refreshing and suspense-infused thriller.