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Dorian Blues
cast: Michael McMillian, Lea Coco, Steven Charles Fletcher, and Mo Quigley

director: Tennyson Bardwell

88 minutes (15) 2004
TLA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Barbara Davies
In Dorian Blues, a witty and wryly humorous voiceover refreshes what could have been a tired theme: 'coming out'. Dorian Lagatis (Michael McMillian) has always suffered by comparison with his hunky, football jock, younger brother Nick (Lea Coco). A favourite with their sarcastic, domineering father (Steven Charles Fletcher), Nick can do no wrong, whereas scrawny, neurotic Dorian can do no right. And it's no use turning to Mum (Mo Quigley) for help. She's made avoidance and denial a fine art. So how's dear old dad going to take the news that Dorian is gay?

This entertaining film is about coming to terms with your sexual orientation, but it's also about relationships between brothers and between fathers and sons. The angry, frequently humiliating interactions between Dorian and his father may be extreme but they have the ring of truth to them - many men become bullies in their own homes. There's plenty to amuse, however, in a plot that gives us high school teenager Dorian's therapy sessions (using a dummy as stand in for his father); his subsequent attempts to become heterosexual, including a night with Tiffany, a prostitute with an unusual sideline in impersonation; and his clingy relationship with too-good-to-be-true NY lawyer Ben and subsequent messy break-up. But though from the start we have always known how the film must end, we arrive there via an unexpected and touching twist.

I had trouble accepting that Dorian is the older of the two brothers as Michael McMillian is much more slightly built and youthful looking than Lea Coco - but perhaps McMillian has a picture in his attic? While he plays Dorian frequently (and successfully) for laughs, Coco's performance as the surprisingly understanding and vulnerable quarterback brother is subtler. Frizzy-haired Mo Quigley is wonderfully vague as Dorian's evasive mother, but it is Steven Charles Fletcher as the excoriating father who dominates his scenes and almost steals the film out from under its star's nose.

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