by Kevin Thomas
Understated 'All the 'Rage' a Pointed Satire of Gay Life

Roland Tec's "All the Rage" offers one of the sharpest satires of gay life and values ever filmed. It's sexy, amusing and has an ending so inspired, so totally revealing, that the effect is all the more stinging for coming out of left field. It is also so cinematic you would never have guessed that Tec, in an especially adroit feature debut, had adapted it from his 1994 play "A Better Boy."

"All the Rage," a standout at the 1997 Outfest, takes us into a world of perfection. John-Michael Lander's Christopher Bedford has it all, including chiseled good looks and a good job as a lawyer in a Boston firm. His office is perfectly appointed as is his apartment in a fine old building. Outside the office his life is a regular routine of visits to the gym, trendy restaurants and bars, where he has no trouble picking up any man who catches his eye. Love 'em and leave him could be his motto, for he goes through men faster than you go through a box of Kleenex when you have a really rotten cold.

Still, since he's gotten everything he ever wanted, he wonders whether he shouldn't go for love as well. When his neighbors, longtime lovers Tom (Peter Burbriski) and Dave (Paul Outlaw), have him over for dinner they surprise him by inviting yet another neighbor, Stewart (David Vincent), an editor at a book publishing company recently arrived from the Midwest. Stewart is a nice- looking young man with large soulful eyes, and he meets one of Christopher's key qualifications: He loves both baseball and ballet.

Christopher regularly goes to the gym with one of his friends at the office, Larry (Jay Corcoran), who exclaims, "Are you telling me that you're going out with a man who doesn't work out!?" (As attractive as Stewart is, he is just a bit thick at the waist.) However, Stewart has a roommate, Kenny (Alan Natale), who not only works out but goes to the same gym Christopher goes to--needless to say, Kenny is a hunk.

Christopher is living in a house of cards and doesn't know it. It's not just that having been a glib, callous chaser he's not prepared for the warm and embracing love Stewart offers; he's also not prepared for the fate that awaits him once he makes a misstep. Setting himself up in his own eyes as the model of perfection, he's faced uniformly with unforgiveness--it's as if people are gratified to see him mess up. Christopher's friends in a way are as shallow as he is, quick to expose him and quicker to reject him. (None of these people have much use for forgiveness and understanding.) Ironically, it's a man (Jeff Miller) Christopher picks up who in a wholly unexpected way confronts him with himself.

Tec directs his large cast smartly, exercising the kind of control that satire, especially the understated variety, demands yet allowing his people to emerge as completely believable human beings. Lander is selfless and wide- ranging as the vain, proud Christopher who thoroughly embodies so much that gay culture idolizes. Not surprisingly, the look of "All the Rage" is crucial to its themes, and rarely has relentlessly trendy good taste been so suffocating. Shot in a mere 24 days, "All the Rage" plays like a contemporary "Vanity Fair."

[LA Times rating: four stars]

Return to "All the Raves" page