★ / ★★★★
Ryan (Theo Montgomery), an aspiring actor, recently booked a job in a play and it seemed like he was one step closer in leaving a dark past which consisted of reckless sex and dangerous drugs. But as soon as he got home, he saw his deadbeat ex-boyfriend, Daniel (Benji Crisnis), sleeping on the porch. Still, having strong feelings for Daniel, Ryan decided to take him in and help to change his current lifestyle. Written and directed by Bernard Shumanski and Harry Shumanski, “Wrecked” had potential to make a statement about self-destructive relationships but ended up a mess because it was afraid to allow its characters to really talk to one another. The first morning Ryan and Daniel spent together, Ryan set up the ground rules if Daniel were to stay in the house. The scene was actually deceptively simple but it worked on multiple levels. First, the scene was shot in the kitchen which, stereotypically, is considered a “woman’s room.” Ryan, the more feminine of the two, sounded like a mother informing her child the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While Daniel passively agreed to the rules, we all knew he took none of it seriously. He just wasn’t willing to take responsibility which was a childish attribute: he was stuck in the “What’s in it for me?” mindset. The scene was critical because it convinced me that what Ryan and Daniel had was a toxic, parasitic relationship. Unfortunately, the rest of the film failed to measure up. It got distracted by one sex scene after another. First, Ryan and Daniel, then Daniel and Taylor (Forth Richards), which the direction hinted at as Ryan’s character foil, and, inevitably, Ryan, Daniel and Taylor sharing the same bed. Instead of thoughtfully exploring the dynamics among the three fragile characters, it felt like a cheap pornographic soft-core film; we saw the characters naked but the filmmakers did not find a way for us to see their souls. There was a subplot involving the director of the play, Kevin (Peter Petersen), having a crush on Ryan. While I understood that it was the one thing Ryan held onto in order to not regress to his bad habits, it felt unnecessary because the relationship, professional or not, wasn’t given the chance to blossom. In fact, I felt quite offended because there was an insidious implication that LGBT relationships is solely based on physical and sexual attraction. Subplot B involved a photographer, Rodney (Womack Daryl), taking pictures of Ryan for some sort of art project. That relationship, too, wasn’t given a chance to grow. The end product was simple casual sex (deceptive because it is almost always never simple). I have friends like the characters in this film. I’ve watched some of them destroy their potential by succumbing to senseless drugs and casual sex. So it was critical that I observed and, more importantly, felt complexity. “Wrecked” was supposed to be a cautionary tale but the power of its messages were lost just as quickly as the boys decided to jump into bed. It was a poor excuse to make something titillating when it was anything but.