'B&B': Film Review
A gay couple pays a price for exercising hard-won rights in Joe Ahearne's suspense pic.
Being a sore winner might get a person killed in B&B, which centers on two gay men who risk violence by spending the night at an inn where they're definitely not wanted. The big-screen feature debut for Brit TV helmer Joe Ahearne, the pic works well within its modest means, wringing life-or-death drama out of, basically, a debate over the accuracy of one man's gaydar. Gay audiences will be the most receptive in its niche release, though the film is not the steamy, straight-alienating suspenser some may expect from marketing materials.
Sean Teale and Tom Bateman play Fred and Marc, who a year ago were denied a room at St. Jude B&B by its fundamentalist Christian owner Josh (Paul McGann). They took St. Jude to court, won a discrimination suit and now have come to rub Josh's face in his loss: Though Fred would happily take the victory and move on, Marc self-righteously insists of checking in, being served dinner and sleeping as a married couple in the home of a man who resents them deeply. (And, incidentally, who went into debt fighting them in court.)
While McGann's nuanced characterization ensures that Josh is no one-dimensional bigot, the hotelier is saddled with a predictable bit of poetic justice: His son Paul (Callum Woodhouse) is himself gay, though he hasn't come out, and is ready to act for the first time on those desires when the couple checks in.
Uncomfortable moments between guests and hosts ensue, as expected. But things get much dicier with the arrival of Alexi, a mammoth Russian tough guy who doesn't speak English and whose presence, though unexplained, may have something to do with the publicity surrounding the legal case. Marc is sure he's gay; Fred believes he's a gay-basher, possibly recruited by Josh to intimidate the couple. Both men feel their suspicions are confirmed when the Russian and Paul head off together to a park known as a safe place for anonymous after-hours hookups.
Ahearne explores the personality differences between the recently married men as they engage in some nervous amateur sleuthing. They stumble across provocative evidence, and while Fred is increasingly eager to flee this scene and go home, Marc insists on digging into whatever controversy they've uncovered.
Ahearne heats things up by moving the action to the wooded hilltop park, often seen in the voyeuristic green glow of night-vision goggles, but the aftermath of this encounter is where the movie's heart lies. Though some twists and changes of heart here add intrigue, the script's third-act negotiations feel a bit stretched; even at 86 minutes, the film could be leaner. Nevertheless, capable performances and directing make B&B worth a visit for moviegoers yearning for a wider variety of gay representations onscreen.
Production company: Hummingbird Films
Distributor: Breaking Glass Pictures
Cast: Sean Teale, Tom Bateman, Paul McGann, Callum Woodhouse, James Tratas
Director-screenwriter: Joe Ahearne
Producer: Jayne Chard
Executive producers: Jonathan Finn, Simon Graham-Clare, Ricky Margolis, Hannah Thomas
Director of photography: Nick Dance
Production designer: Iain Andrews
Costume designer: Arianna Dal Cero
Editor: Graham Walker
Composers: Simon Birch, Dan Jones
Casting director: Colin Jones