Johns Review

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It's Christmas Eve, the day before his big day but John isn't in a festive mood as he awakens to find his shoes have been stolen. Barefoot and starving he traipses the sidewalks for his first "date" of the day and here begins a series of uncomfortable liaisons with a variety of men.


Set against the scorching landscape of Hollywood's Santa Monica Boulevard, Silver's first feature film makes for interesting viewing, although this interest is mostly generated by a morbid fascination with the world of male prostitution, the focus of the picture, than any plot.

A mostly hand-held camera follows John (Arquette), a homeless street hustler with no surname, through one long day as he works the dusty streets and tries to get enough cash to spend his birthday night in a posh hotel. Haas plays Donner, John's fellow hustler and confidant who wishes they could become more than just good friends and attempts to drag John off the streets and away to a new life. Gould appears as a flamboyant married man who uses John for a quick thrill on such a regular basis that he buys him a birthday present. A colourful group of street boys makes up the rest of John's limited world and in accordance with the style of these slice-of-life genre the characters come and go as quickly as John's hard-earned cash.

The movie does redeem itself with the knowledge that the troubles John encounters in his daily life come from real stories - the links with Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho here are inescapable - while a cool camera style gives it a certain raw energy. However, the few comic moments can't suppress a feeling that this is voyeurism in its most tragic form.

Despite a few light moments, it's quite hard going, and its saving grace lies in its truthfulness.