Review: Lonesome

Written and directed by Craig Boreham, Casey, a country lad running from a small-town scandal, finds himself down and out in big city Sydney. When he meets city lad Tib both men find something they have been missing but neither of them knows quite how to negotiate it. Starring: Josh Lavery, Daniel Gabriel, Anni Finsterer, Ian Roberts, Ally Morgan, Vincent Andriano and Mark Paguio.

A lot of LGBTQ+ dramas and romances over the years have shied away from sensuality and sex, feeling like they were hedging their bets because of pressure to appeal to a wider audience. Thankfully, we’ve now entered an age where we get more honest, real feeling gay cinema and Lonesome is a great example of that. It dives straight into sex and nudity, which feels like a fantastic change of pace. The story itself plays both outside and inside of the box, there’s some familiar themes but it also has a few unusual aspects. As it moves along you can start to see the bigger picture and how it explores trauma in an interesting manner. Although it does feel slightly downplayed when mixed with the romance.

It’s compelling and charming but there is something to it that’s ultimately unsatisfying. It creates two great characters in Casey (Josh Lavery) and Tib (Daniel Gabriel), there’s a classically bumpy road as there is to any romance but when the story comes to a head, it doesn’t really manage to find the route back. It hasn’t built up enough to its grand finale, it’s a lovely moment in itself but there’s a few missing pieces to make it feel justified or smooth. One of the interesting things about it is the story does have a certain grit to it while the visual has a heightened colour and lighter tone about it. The two sound as though they shouldn’t work together but they do it well.

Part of the unusual element to the story is how Josh Lavery portrays Casey, there’s an intense vulnerability to him which is mixed with a lot of internalised pressure, anxiety, guilt and anger. It’s a mix of simple with complex, he’s typically broody and quiet on the outside while keeping a huge wave of issues on the inside. It’s hugely sympathetic and there’s an underlying sweetness and generosity to him but the actual performance can be a touch too hesitant, the timing of his delivery can feel strangely slow. Daniel Gabriel on the other hand creates a big energy and free spiritedness to Tib, again it’s a typical masking of other issues but it still feels original. Gabriel has a magnetic quality that makes him fun to watch. Then when you put the two together, they have a wonderful, strong chemistry both emotional and physical. It’s captivating, endearing and a touch raw.

Lonesome is a gritty yet sweet romance blended with an exploration of trauma, guilt and internalised shame. It gives us gay drama as we know it but brings it more keenly into the modern day with a bigger flexibility and authenticity. Josh Lavery and Daniel Gabriel’s blossoming connection is engrossing and charming, they have a terrific chemistry which you can watch with a perfect ease. There is some awkwardness to it and a few hiccups in how the story progresses but it’s not often you find a film with both feet in romance that still feels real and unglamourised.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Available now on DVD, Blu-ray & VOD –
On PeccadilloPOD, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play & BFI Player

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