Writer-director David Lewis’s low-fi melodrama Redwoods, filmed (as the title would suggest) amidst the imposing Redwood forests of California, is something of a new entry into gay cinema.
It’s a rather chaste romantic tearjerker where, for the most part, the focus is on meaningful glances and sexual tension as opposed to, well, rampant bumming. Some wags have dubbed it the gay Bridges Of Madison County.
Lewis told Sydney Star Observer his aim was to tell a love story where sexuality wasn’t the focus.
“I’ve always wanted to make a tearjerker, a sweeping love story,” he said.
“Nothing that happens to these characters has anything to do with their sexuality. It’s certainly something gay audiences are going to appreciate; it’s a gay love story, after all. But straight people also completely understand this film, which is what I wanted.”
The story centres on Everett (Brendan Bradley), a young man stuck in a dull relationship with his partner of several years, Miles, but staying because of the responsibility they share: caring for their special-needs son.
When partner and son both leave home for a weekend trip, Everett finds himself drawn to struggling writer Chase (Matthew Montgomery), who has arrived in redwood country seeking creative inspiration.
The sexual tension builds and builds until the two inevitably fall into bed. Will Everett pursue a new life with this man or stay in his domestic rut with Miles?
“Audience members have reacted strongly to what Everett did. Some people think he was totally in the wrong, others that he was totally in the right,” Lewis said.
“I love that they have strong reactions, but I don’t think it’s that clear-cut. But everyone has their own interpretations of what these characters do.
“I’d say it generally falls into two camps: one says if you find someone you’re absolutely in love with, you’ve got to go for it. The other says, give me a break — it’s just some fire-hot fleeting romance that’s not going to last.”
And fire-hot it is. Lewis skilfully builds the sparks between the two before their long-awaited love scene in the final act.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about the sex scene. It must be my Catholic upbringing. Originally when I wrote it, it was totally gentle and tender.
“But when we talked in rehearsals, it was the straight actor [Bradley] who said it needed to be more passionate and explosive. And he was right; it’s the release after all this tension building up.
“Luckily these two [actors] trusted each other, got on well, and had a real connection, so it turned out beautifully.”
info: Redwoods is out now through Love Films