Archive for June 27th, 2019

by Sam Juliano

The perspective of Simon, a receptionist at a LGBT crisis hotline is that callers aren’t anywhere close to their own demise but rather are venting on the sustained discrimination they face at the workplace and in social circles because of their sexual orientation.  Because he’s convinced he’s holding down the fort to placate gays looking to find support in improving their pedigree, he is totally unprepared when he is regaled with the real thing after a co-worker retires one evening leaving him solo to engage with a deeply troubled young man.  Danny (Christian Gabriel) immediately announces that he will off himself after all is said and done, but commences to leave no stone unturned in documenting  how and why he has gotten to this point of no return.  Mark Schwab, the director of Crisis Hotline employs a progressively riveting flashback structure that serves as a re-enactment of how an initially blissful relationship becomes compromised by dread and suppression.  When Danny is shown falling for a young man named Kyle, Simon isn’t yet convinced he has anything beyond a final coda of unrequited love, though of course people have done themselves in for less.

Schwab depicts an idyllic relationship (a real nice touch is the director’s series of vignettes showcasing a relationship progression from “a coffee date,” to “a scary movie date” to “a hiking date” and then to the consummation of “a dinner date”) suffused with the exuberance of sex and mutual affection, seemingly so strong as to mitigate any dark secrets threatening the state of euphoria.  In Brian O’Donnell and Sasha King’s 2015 Akron, a gay romance temporarily derailed by the revelation of a tragedy that linked their families, Benny and Christopher are forced to re-evaluate their relationship until they are able to sort out sibling animosities that are first thought to be irreconcilable.  But where Akron’s lovers could not be held responsible for the sins of their fathers so to speak, there is an ugly act of betrayal lurking in Schawab’s film, one projecting the same kind of permanence after Gene Forrester shook the tree branch in a wooden enclave on the grounds of Phillips Exeter Academy in John Knowles’ novel A Separate Peace, crippling his friend Finny, who later died as a result of his injury and operation.  In Crisis Hotline like the Knowles novel a character can’t control what the other is thinking, hence fate and circumstance trump noble thoughts or intentions. (more…)

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