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  Cicada Not A Black Or White Matter
Year: 2020
Director: Matthew Fifer, Kieron Mulcare
Stars: Matthew Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, Cobie Smulders, Scott Adsit, Michael Potts, David Burtka, Jo Firestone, Jason Greene, Beau Curran, Bowen Yang, Clara McGregor, Jude Dry, Kevin William Reed, Ahmad Maksoud
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ben (Matthew Fifer) was supposed to be married a few months back, but called it off because he wanted to have sex with as many men and women as he could. At the moment, he is mostly interested in men, though he has female partners as well, but they all have one thing in common, they are all brief encounters that do not go anywhere once they have both reached orgasm. Ben just isn't interested in a relationship, or so he believes, that is until he is out on the streets of New York City and spots a young man who seems to be slightly interested, but does not commit to a one night stand, indeed Sam (Sheldon D. Brown) is not giving off vibes of wanting casual sex at all. This makes Ben more persistent, and edges towards fidelity...

We were told that this gay romance was more distinctive than others because it was based on the real life stories of the two leads, who collaborated on the screenplay to craft a drama they hoped would have a strong element of authenticity, more so than many romantic films, gay or straight. Both characters have suffered a trauma in their pasts, separately that was, and they must come to terms with their disturbed feelings as a result, or risk losing the men they love. Since it was each of the participants who were deeply troubled, this would appear to have sabotaged any hope of happiness for them, yet there were indications that seeing as how they had something in common, no matter that the details were different, they had a foundation to build on.

This was approached by star/writer/director Fifer and his co-director Kieron Mulcare in a casual manner as befitting the manner in which Ben goes about life, never really investing in anything as we discover because that trauma has taught him not to give too much of himself psychologically to anyone, only his body will do. Although it didn't state outright what had gone wrong for him, we do know that he is suffering physical effects: no, he hasn't picked up a disease from his carnal adventures, it's a psychosomatic illness that is making his hair fall out or fatiguing him. It's not too hard to guess what the root of this is, as every so often we hear him listening to news reports of an infamous paedophile on trial, but while this was an issue in reality for many, in the context of the film it was Sam who proved the more interesting of the two.

His worries are more race-based, as he believes he was targeted by a shooter because he was a black, gay man and therefore doubly vulnerable to attack. Maybe it was because Brown was a better actor than his co-star, but in the main we would rather hear more about Sam than the shallow Ben, who mumbles his way through his dialogue and proves half as charismatic than Brown, so much so that you may wonder why Sam was so attracted to him outside of the fact he paid attention to him when he was down in the dumps. There was a scene where he accuses Ben of using him as a trophy to show off to his liberal friends that rang a lot truer than, say, Cobie Smulders as the world's worst psychiatrist who Ben's doctor (Scott Adsit) recommends he sees to cope with his problems: these kooky scenes undercut what was a carefully cultivated atmosphere of realism and made you relieved they did not decide to lean into the comedy to a greater extent. Really, as a cinematic love affair it was overbalanced, sure, you appreciated that Fifer was the man who got this made, and it was sympathetic, but as an actor he was a better writer and director. Music by Gil Talmi.

[CICADA is released in UK & Irish cinemas and digital platforms on 21st January 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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