Hot on the heels of his riotous AIDS road movie The Living End, Araki's fourth feature charts familiar glad-to-be-gay territory. Using the disproportionate percentage of gay teen suicides as its starting point, the movie presents, in 15 segments, a brave, personal insight into the alienation felt by gay L.A. teenagers.
Aspiring filmmaker Steven (Luna) videotapes his six closest friends' negative thoughts on the normal sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll pressures of teen life coupled with their more specific fears of a conspicuously homophobic society, AIDS and the threat of gay bashers lurking at every turn. The video whinging progresses into a full story as one of the group, the terminally bewildered Andy (Duval), falls in love for the first time, while Steven's relationship with his boyfriend Deric (May) is wrecked by his unfaithfulness which in turn threatens the sextet's friendship.
This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a lighthearted picture and even when the movie emerges from behind its grainy black-and-white video world, the mood does not lighten. There's no escaping the teen angst or, for that matter, Araki's thumping message with the angry director managing to slip the odd political curve-ball into proceedings as if he's been watching too many Oliver Stone movies. The film makes it clear how hard it is to be gay, but a dash of humour would make Araki's medicine