bad bpy street box

Bad Boy Street

TLA Releasing,

Todd Verow

Todd Verow
with additional dialogue by:
Yann de Monterno,
Florence d’Azemar,
Kevin Miranda

Yann de Monterno,
Florence d’Azemar,
Kevin Miranda,
Todd Verow

Unrated, 80 minutes

We'll Always
Have Paris
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online January, 2013

bad boy street

They say that almost anything is possible, but I never thought I would use the words “warm and fuzzy” and Todd Verow in the same sentence.

Todd Verow’s films have always gotten my attention ever since I was first freaked out by Frisk back in '96. A true guerrilla filmmaker, he makes personal films without any concessions towards the mainstream. Bulldog in the Whitehouse (2006) looked like a home movie but was also one of the best – and rudest - attacks on the Bush administration this reviewer has seen. Agitprop sometimes trumps plot but the results are always intriguing. Filming in digital video with non-existent budgets, he trusts his actors to improvise and the results can get under your skin. There is always sex, artfully filmed. Autobiographical themes often pervade; raw and confessional. I thought that Anonymous (2004) was an erotic yet harrowing portrait of a sex addict, and I was amused by how Deleted Scenes (2010) mocked its own offbeat format by giving the fragmented segments titles like: "Sean speaks to Wolf for the first time (bad dubbing)."

bad bpy streetImagine my surprise when I found most of his latest film, Bad Boy Street (2012), to be rather warm and fuzzy. Compared to most of his films, this one is almost conventional. Setting the story in Paris adds to the romance. If the great French filmmaker Francois Truffaut still lived, and made a film in which an older Jean-Pierre Leaud takes a younger man home, this could be a rough sketch for it.

bad boy streetYann de Monterno stars as Claude, a handsome gay man in his forties. He is coming home from a night of drinking and dancing when he stumbles upon a young man who lies passed out on the sidewalk. Claude helps the handsome hunk get up. He wakes up for a minute and gives Claude the cutest drunken smile before collapsing in his savior’s arms. Claude drags him up the stairs to his apartment and puts him to bed. Always the gentleman, Claude goes downstairs to sleep on the couch. When he wakes up the next morning, the young man is there too, fellating him.

bad bpy streetKevin Miranda plays the mysterious young stranger. He tells Claude that his name is Brad. They share a shower. There is a bruise on Brad’s back, and he tells him that he got it doing a fight scene in a movie. They eat breakfast, but Brad panics and hides on the balcony when his host’s best friend, Catherine (Florence d’Azemar), suddenly stumbles in. Claude tells her that his guest is American, and shy, as he pushes her outside. “I want to know everything,” she says as the door closes in her face.

bad boy streetBrad tells Claude that he’s staying in Paris with friends for a few days. He has to go but asks if he can come back later. Claude is elated by the attention he is getting from this beautiful young man. He knows that the lad will be going back to America but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a great time for the next few days. And they do have a great time. A tender romance blossoms. It is all the more sexy too because of the age difference. We don’t see enough of that in queer cinema.

bad boy streetThe passion between them is believable. Of course, this being a Todd Verow film, we are also treated to ample amounts of explicit sex. But it’s not as raw this time, not like his last few films. There’s no full frontal nudity either for a change. Yes, this would still be rated NC-17 if it had a rating, but the sex is quite romantic and sensual. And hot. And, yes, I know I said that Claude awakes to a blow job the morning after he brings Brad home, but you only see a bobbing head. Nothing was left to the imagination in the writer/director’s Leave Blank (2010) and maybe that’s why Bad Boy Street seems so idyllic to me. It’s a joy watching these two hot men fall artfully in love.

bad boy streetA few surprises are still on the way, but not much really happens for most of the movie. It’s a nice study of two men enjoying a fling that they both know is fleeting. Can they have a future? Claude tells Brad that he followed his first love to America but it didn’t work out. He returned home to Paris to stay and vowed to never make that mistake again. But, as Liza Minnelli sings in Cabaret, “maybe this time?” There’s a twist in the middle of the film but it’s best enjoyed if you discover it on your own. When I watched the film a second time, knowing what would happen later, a few quirky bits in the first half acquired a new richness. Not to mention humor. It was almost like watching the film again fresh.

bad boy streetClaude’s friendship with Catherine is also well developed. I tend to get annoyed easily with the standard gay man – fag hag shtick that pads out the length of way too many queer films. Not this time though, and it wasn’t just because their scenes are in French with English subtitles. She is his drinking buddy and confidant, and they are convincing as best friends. It seems that they both have been unlucky in love for a long time. They screwed once in college; Claude tells her “I was young and you took advantage of me.” She has the film’s best line when she says, “I must stop drinking and sleeping with drunk gay guys.”

bad boy street

The camerawork is much better this time too. There are many beautiful images, and a smoothness that befits the more romantic subject. The Paris photography establishes setting and mood without turning into travelogue. Bad Boy Street looks like a European film. One painterly composition stood out for me. Brad has just woken up in a strange bed that first morning. Naked, and holding a pillow in front of his crotch, he walks down a spiral staircase. To the right of the screen we see Claude, asleep on the couch. To the left is the bottom of the spiral staircase and Brad’s legs stepping down. I liked this image a lot. It made me think of Marcel Duchamp’s famous cubist painting that shocked Paris in 1912, Nude Descending a Staircase, no. 2.

bad bpy streetVerow often stars in his films but he was wise to stay behind the camera this time and refrain from playing Claude himself. Yann de Monterno is perfect as the leading man, and he gives the film that nice Truffaut feel, he's like a hunkier Charles Aznavour. The cast is exceptional. There is terrific chemistry and an easy camaraderie that is all the more remarkable when you consider how fast Verow usually shoots his movies. The film is basically a three hander, but the director has a funny cameo.

bad boy streetBad Boy Street isn’t perfect but it is one of Verow’s most polished films. Some of the sound is bad, making the subtitled scenes welcome. The music is unmemorable but at least it’s unobtrusive most of the time. Many of the best scenes in his films have played out in silence, and that is also true here. There is the usual mix of long takes and jump cuts. It’s not uncommon for his actors to improvise large sections of his films. I’m guessing that is the case here too, because the script is credited to Verow along with additional dialogue by the three lead actors.

bad bpy streetAside from the theme of having to be closeted that is introduced in act two, Bad Boy Street is an amazingly light movie compared with the darkness of his last few films. And there’s nothing wrong with that. He can’t be cinema’s bad boy all the time, and he probably needs to lighten up now and then. Bad Boy Street was sweet, it was sexy. It was funny, well acted, the characters were real. And I never thought I would ever recommend one of Verow’s films as a date movie, but there’s a first time for everything. I expect that his next film will probably be demented again as usual.


More on Todd Verow :

Bulldog In The Whitehouse
Between Something & Nothing

The Boy With The Sun In His Eyes

Deleted Scenes

Leave Blank
The Endless Possibility Of Sky

Berlin Film Festival Essay:
No More Mr. Nice Guy
a Manifesto by Todd Verow