Director: Joseph Graham
Starring: Ben Bonenfant, Paul Gerrior, Carlo D’Amore, Nick Frangione
Studio: TLA Releasing
Buy Link Amazon Buy/Watch Link
Country of Origin/Language: USA/English
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: A very moody, kind of sexy and a quite surprising character study following the effects of one very strange night on the life a hustler.
The Blurb: A routine trick at a man’s apartment propels a cynical hustler into a series of strange and life-changing encounters in this stunningly photographed drama from San Francisco-based Joseph Graham. Tall and lanky with a mop of unruly dark hair, the young man makes for an attractive prostitute – handsome in body, amiable in personality and efficient in sex. He’s just out to make a buck, one guy at a time. But this coldly efficient rent boy begins to look at himself in a different way one stormy night when he finds himself lost in a maze-like apartment building. Strapped is an unforgettable look into one young man’s moving journey to understanding.
The Review: With all those glowing reviews on the internet (I didn’t read them, but saw a lot of stars), I finally broke down and rented Strapped. Maybe it was the trailer that misled me, but I thought that it was going to be all about a hustler’s sexual adventures, after all the main character is a hustler. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and there is a fair amount of sex sizzling the celluloid in this film, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good the characters are and I was soon lost in the story.
As the blurb above says, the film details a night in the life of “The Hustler”, a boyish man who’s out for a buck and no entanglements. He is a chameleon who changes names and identities with each encounter, but he never lets any of his tricks know the real him.
The setting is an old apartment building that reminded me of the hotel from the movie The Shining, and I had to laugh when one of the characters actually says that. After each of his encounters, The Hustler, (let’s call him Alex – his first identity in the film) gets lost in the hallways and can’t seem to find the way out.
Luckily he keeps meeting horny gay men who are more than willing to pay for his services while he figures out what is happening. It was fascinating to see how these men that Alex meets effect him – sometimes in a good way – like the older bear who gives Alex comfort, and sometimes in a not such a good way – like the closeted man who wants Alex, while also despising his own attraction. The wide variety of characters represented by Alex’s tricks surprise him by giving more than just payment for his time. And Alex is equally surprised as he in return, gives them each more than he intended.
I felt that the acting was quite good, especially Ben Bonenfant as “The Hustler” (Alex) and Nick Frangione as Gary from my personal favorite scene, in which Gary surprises Alex with what he wants him to do. Without giving too much away let me just say that this was for me by far the sexiest (and least graphic) sex scene in the whole film and has a profound impact on Alex.
While we’re on the subject of sex, Alex does have sex in one form or another with several characters during his journey, some off camera where you only see one of the participant’s faces in close up, and some more graphic, showing simulated intercourse. The nudity is surprisingly limited to a brief butt shot of Alex and a full frontal shot of one of his johns lying in bed.
The atmosphere is very sexy – with the sound of rain falling outside as an accompaniment to all the events, which elicited a cocooned, almost claustrophobic feeling – like being trapped home in a snowstorm. And I must applaud the soundtrack, which I thought was also very well placed amongst the scenes, like Jay Brannon’s sweet voice singing Housewife, which I felt was a great match to the scene in which it was used.
I should also mention that the ending is what I would call an HFN that left me smiling. I can happily recommend Strapped if you’re looking for something a little different.