The Art of Being Straight -- Film Review

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Jesse Rosen's microbudgeted indie, in which he also stars, explores the issue of sexual identity in a way that is meant to be thoughtful and provocative but which has little more depth than the old joke about bisexuality being a good way to double your chances for a date on a Saturday night. "The Art of Being Straight" is far from the worst of the recent plethora of gay-themed films, but its best chances of exposure will be on VOD.

The writer-director plays the lead role of Jon, a nice young man who has recently moved from New York to Los Angeles after taking a "break" from his relationship with his girlfriend. Moving in with his old college buddy Andy (Jared Grey), he finds himself hanging out with the sort of macho guys who preface every observation with the phrase "That is so gay."

He takes a low-level job at an ad agency, where he becomes the sexual object of attention of his predatory gay boss (Johnny Ray Rodriguez), who, despite being thoroughly obnoxious and repugnant, soon manages to seduce his new hire. Also experiencing sexual confusion is Jon's best friend, Maddy (Rachel Castillo), a lesbian in a committed relationship who finds herself falling for the sweet guy (Peter Scherer) who moves in next door.

Although reasonably insightful in its portrait of confused twentysomethings, the film lacks the depth to be interesting, and its lead character's sexual experimentation is not depicted in particularly convincing fashion.

Rosen is unfortunately bland in the lead role, but co-star Castillo reveals a highly engaging presence as the tough-talking but vulnerable Maddy.

Opens: Friday, June 5 (Here!/Regent Releasing)
Production: Great Graffiti Films, Malvern Prods
Cast: Jesse Rosen, Rachel Castillo, Jared Grey, Johnny Ray Rodriguez, Jesse Janzen, Tyler Jenich, Bryan McGownan, Peter Scherer, Anne Reeder, Emilia Richeson, Jennifer Z. Mosely Director-screenwriter: Jesse Rosen
Producers: Amy Wasserman, Jesse Rosen, Ursula Camack
Executive producer: Laurence Ducceschi
Director of photography: Aaron Torres
Editor: Rob Schulbaum
Production designer: Karuna Karmarker
Music: Trevor Howard
No rating, 70 minutes