out of Five
Running time: 71
Compassionately directed and boldly written, I Want Your Love is an enjoyable and controversial drama with impressively naturalistic performances and a strong soundtrack, but the graphic gay sex scenes feel too overdone.
What’s it all about?
Written and directed by Travis Mathews, I Want Your Love stars Jesse Metzger as Jesse, a thirty-something gay man from Ohio living in San Francisco, who must move back to his parents’ house in the Midwest due to financial problems. On the eve of his departure, Jesse gathers his friends and ex-lovers for a going away party at his place, where Jesse’s deep unease for departing the city he’s lived in for over a decade and his mixed feelings towards his relationships are brought into sharper focus.
I Want Your Love may mark Travis Mathews’ debut feature film, but the experimental filmmaker isn’t new to shedding light on gay men as a subject matter, having filmed an on-going documentary series about gay men and bedrooms, titled In Their Room, in 2009. As a result, his experience and awareness of handling such a scarcely discussed theme shines through, and his wonderful script is refreshingly candid, along with his empathetic direction.
Dance and performance artist Jesse Metzger (also his first feature film) impresses as the film’s protagonist Jesse, putting on a commendably naturalistic performance whilst looking and acting uncannily similar to a young Mark Duplass. The film’s soothing soundtrack, featuring music from The Chromatics, also works suitably well and the gorgeous shots of San Francisco ensure striking cinematography.
I Want Your Love has been heavily criticised and even banned in Australia for its stark use of real gay sex, with actor James Franco defending the scenes by arguing that sex is a huge part of people’s lives and that to keep films from exploring it would be very short sighted. And whilst this is true, there are certain limits to keep in place with a feature film and thanks to its overly graphic (do we really need to see detailed close ups of naked rears for longer than 5 seconds?) and overdone sex scenes, I Want Your Love might just venture too close to pornographic territory. As a result, the gay sex scenes (particularly towards the end of the film) feel overstretched and begin to lose their meaning. In addition, Jesse’s over zealous friend, Brontez (Brontez Purnell) can be terribly irritating to watch and listen to at times.
With its naturalistic performances and refreshingly honest portrayal of gay relationships, I Want Your Love is an emotive watch and an impressive feature debut from Travis Mathews. Although be warned, this is not a film for the fainthearted.