Gyes, a 30-year-old and, in his words, “ultimately alone, Howie (Bowen Yang) based all his hitherto unrealized ideals of falling in love on the heterosexual romantic comedies he grew up watching on screen: opposites of attraction, meeting sweets and making crazy strokes for. each other at the airport. “Shit like that doesn’t happen in real life,” advises his best friend Noah (Joel Kim Booster), though it’s not as if Howie needs a reminder – he just wants “the romance” anyway.
Andrew Ahn’s solar gay comrade film Fire Island negotiates this fundamental conflict in his characters while also falling to it as a film. Mapping a conventionally cheesy romantic comedy hit to a less Hollywood-dictated gay terrain, it also aims to deliver some hard truths about the modern gay rendezvous scene between the sweetened sunset smooches and all-well-that-ends-well optimism of various past vehicles for. Sandra Bullock or Meg Ryan. The result, like those films, is more aspiring than it is compelling.
Years ago, Asian Americans Noah and Howie joined in on their mutual status as outcasts in a scene where “no fat, no women, no Asians” is too common a line on Grindr profiles. Since Howie moved from New York City to San Francisco, however, their lives have diverged somewhat: while he remained a timid mural, Noah has evolved into a gym-built stallion, cycling through one-night stands with casual ease. An annual week-long vacation on the gay mecca of New York’s Fire Island has become the obligatory fixture of their friendship; along with three thinly drawn friends, they smash the holiday home of lesbian friend Erin (Margaret Cho), and spend their days drinking, dancing, and cruising as if there is no tomorrow – or at least no threatening middle age.
Informal sex comes easily to Noah, though not to Howie. As the latter confesses his insecurities and doubts about the whole trip, Noah resolves to put his own sex life on ice to make his friend fall in love – something Charlie (James Scully), a sweet, handsome doctor they meet on their first night, seems happy. help about. But going out with Charlie also involves distracting his sidekick Will (Conrad Ricamora), a stiff, reserved but coldly handsome lawyer whom Noah takes an immediate dislike to – you know, the one Lizzie Bennet first took to Mr. Darcy, and we all know it. as it turned out.
Yes, Fire Island is yet another contemporary rewrite of Pride and Prejudice – not that Booster’s quirky film trusts the audience to make the Jane Austen league for itself. The first line of the novel is also that of the film, quoted by Noah in his current, rather fabricated narration, before an impertinent retort: ”Not an insult to my girl Jane, but that sounds like some sort of nonsense to me!”
It’s a naive start, indicative of a weakly jarred tone to the dialogue everywhere, but Fire Island gets better when it sporadically shows its teeth. Booster picks up on sharper, more sensitive topics like racism within the weird community or the toxicity of body beautiful culture, while transient observers talk about the first-hand weird knowledge that attempts at inclusion of Hollywood tend to lack. (This is certainly the first film in which one character offers to swap a tooth-white strip of Crest for a PrEP board.) At such moments, beneath the fluorescent, crowd-pleasing surface of Fire Island, it’s easy to recall past Ahn Driveways and Spa Night movies.
However, the moments of truth of the film or constantly opposed by moments of compromise: for every ugly detail directed directly at the strange target market, there is a light passage of explanation for the straight lines and squares. (Noah’s story pedantically expands the initials by which various drugs are known; Fire Island’s pioneering history is unpacked in a PowerPoint-like photo montage.) Thorny social tensions are removed due to simpler happy endings, while even in matters of representation. and inclusiveness, the film doesn’t have the full courage of its convictions: it’s hard not to notice that the film’s only Black character, Max (Torian Miller), is the most sketchy and story-telling random of the group of friends.
Crete it as a more superficial victory for equality, then. Fire Island is colorful, digestible, and cheerfully played by an ensemble of well-rounded comedic performers: rather like the similarly polished, lively Love, Simon, it proves that gay people can also have their gay main fantasies, even if its conclusion is narrowly directed. clear of a certain “hetero nonsense”. Marriage is not the whole and the end here; fellowship is, especially when it means dancing in a group to Donna Summer, and that’s about the most tailored Ahn and Booster makes to a reliable formula. By the end of a whopping 100 minutes, you may finally want what these bright, alluring characters have; you also probably think that this shit, well, doesn’t happen in real life.