Between Love & Goodbye

TLA Releasing,
Embrem Enterainment

Casper Andreas

Simon Miller, Justin Tensen, Rob Harmon, Jane Elliott, Ryan Turner, Austin Head, Aaron Michael Davies, Jared Gertner

Unrated, 96 minutes

Hurricane April
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online, May 2009

I was looking forward to this film and really wanted to like it. I've admired writer/director Casper Andreas' films ever since I watched his first effort, a low budget but beautifully written movie with a terrible title called Slutty Summer. His second film, written with Jesse Archer, A Four Letter Word, was a lot of fun too. His latest, Between Love & Goodbye, is a much more ambitious effort but he bites off a bit more than he can chew with this one.

Between Love & Goodbye begins with a sham wedding. Marcel (Justin Tensen) doesn't wish to get deported to France and wants to stay in America with his boyfriend Kyle (Simon Miller). Marcel marries their lesbian friend Sarah (Jane Elliott) so that he gets a green card and she gets an apartment lease. It's an old story that's been done numerous times already - on both versions of Queer As Folk, on Will & Grace and most notably in Ang Lee's superb The Wedding Banquet. But, in this case, the wedding isn't the main plot.

The emphasis in Between Love & Goodbye is the toxic triangle between Kyle, Marcel and Kyle's manipulative transsexual sister, April. As Kyle and Marcel are settling into married bliss in an apartment down the hall from the one owned by Sarah and Marcel, Kyle gets a sudden call from his estranged sister. They haven't spoken in over a year but she has hit rock bottom and needs her brother back in her life.Their mother committed suicide when they were children and, for most of their lives, they have been codependent on each other. April claims to have stopped making a living by turning tricks and Marcel tells Kyle that, because they used to be so close, he should give her a second chance. Big mistake.

Marcel should have kept his mouth shut. April moves in with them. It's only supposed to be a for a couple days until she gets on her feet but a few months pass and she is still there. Kyle and April start up their old rock band and, before long, he is spending more time with his sister than he is with his beau. April hates Marcel, and wants Kyle all to herself, and this volatile situation has been telegraphed from the moment she entered the apartment. At first the little annoyances are subtle but suddenly, without warning, we are in a film that is channeling Valley Of The Dolls. April walks in on the lovebirds fighting about her and acts as if she is the injured party. When Marcel actually suggests that she is mooching off of them and should get a job to help out with the rent, she whines "Kyle, how can you allow this?" and "Tell him I can stay."
The predicament is a plausible one but its execution leaves much to be desired. Before April enters the picture, Marcel and Kyle are shown to be so in love that it is almost sickening. No matter now manipulative April is, she poisons their relationship far too easily. Even Iago had his work cut out for him when he turned Othello against Desdemona. Marcel can be a little whiney at times but his reaction to his partner's freeloading sister is entirely justified. How many spouses would agree to an ex-prostitute tranny sibling moving into their home and then put up with listening to her calling him a selfish prick?
The film would work better if April wasn't such a one note bitch because her scenes border on camp. April is a person with issues, and it was an intriguing idea to make her transsexual. When a doctor tells April that she is going to be have to get a mastectomy because of scar tissue, April buzzes off her hair and becomes Cole. Apparently this isn't the first time that April/Cole has shifted genders. To say that she is needy would be an understatement but it's impossible to feel any sympathy for the character. Besides being a deliberate homewrecker, there is nothing likable about her. She isn't even fun as a villain. But blood is thicker than water and Kyle always takes her side over his partner's.
And then there's the songs. It was cute the first time Kyle and April's band performed and Kyle sang a passable love song to his boyfriend as we watched a nice montage of romantic scenes between the lovers. In his previous films, Andreas was a master at transitional segues that - unlike most indie filmmakers - actually furthered the plot while the music played. The scenes of their rock band playing songs that comment on the film's action becomes a device that gets tiresome very quickly. (It would help if the songs were better. "What Is the Color Of Love?" Puh-leeze!)
It's a pity because Andreas has a nice knack for writing heartfelt scenes between his characters and this film does have a few. The moments when Marcel begs Sarah to wear make-up and a dress so that she looks less butch for their immigration interview add some much needed comic relief. From time to time I would get swept up in the film only to lose interest as soon as the forced conflicts with April/Cole would intrude again. One can only listen to April call Marcel a user for so long before it starts becoming farcical. It was possible to tell this story without resorting to so much over-the-top melodrama or turning the last act into a rehash of The War Of The Roses. ("No wonder your mother stuck her head in an oven!" Marcel screams at one point.) The film might have actually worked better if it had been a comedy instead. If Kyle and Marcel really loved each other as much as we are initially led to believe, they should have been able to weather Hurricane April. But, then again, during the flashbacks of their courtship, Kyle tells Marcel that he loves him barely two minutes after meeting him.

On the plus side, Between Love & Goodbye is very crisply filmed and acted. Rob Harmon is an interesting looking creature as April and as Cole, and she/he could have been a great character if the lines he was given to deliver were imbued with a little more subtlety and less of a heavy hand. Casper Andreas has already proved in Slutty Summer and A Four Letter Word that he can direct; the problem here is a script that needs a major overhaul. It needs to emulate Terrence McNally instead of Jacqueline Susann. At least the overblown ending doesn't involve a deus ex machina to set everything to rights again. There are worse films out there, but Between Love & Goodbye is a crushing disappointment.


More On Casper Andreas:
Slutty Summer
A Four Letter Word
Big Gay Musical, The