A Four Letter Word to Describe the Movie “A Four Letter Word” — Good

Theatre Poster for Four Letter WordA Four Letter Word
Staring Jesse Archer and Charlie David
2007

Hotties Jesse Archer and Charlie David star in this romantic comedy about “love in the 21st century.”

Luke, played by Archer, is man on the make. He’s always looking for the next hookup and trick; sometimes barely remembering them. Stephen, played by David, is handsome man whom Luke meets one night at a gay bar. Luke’s attempted pick-up of Stephen goes less than smoothly. Luke’s forwardness and flamboyance appear to turn Stephen off. He tells Luke that he is a “gay-cliché” and a reminder of “why I don’t come to places like this.” However, a few nights later Luke and Stephen meet again—unknowingly–in the darkened back room. It is after this encounter that they decide to explore first sex, then dating, then, possibly, a relationship. However, Luke finds out some things about Stephen that make him question if he can trust this man.

Elsewhere in the plot; boyfriends Peter and Derek played by Steven Goldsmith and J.R. Rowley respectively have taken their relationship to the next level by moving in together. Potential problems abound with this situation as Peter gets use to this new level and having someone in his space. Peter’s boss at a restaurant where he works is Marilyn, played by Virginia Bryan. Marilyn is a recovering alcoholic who is about to get married to a man, but a kiss by her female sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous makes her question her decision and identity.

Of these three plots, the one between Luke and Stephen works the best, though not enough time is given to any the plots to enable them to organically develop. This is one of the major drawbacks of the film. Especially non-sensical is the 180 degree change in attitude of Stephen. When first meeting Luke he is unimpressed by Luke’s ludicrous come-on lines and flamboyant personality. Nights later when they meet in the backroom, Stephen is suddenly taken with Luke after discovering who he is. At first you may be able to pass this off as Stephen being not so above-it-all as he claims to be in the first scene; especially since he was getting serviced in the dark in the back room. But after their initial hookup later that night, you question just what it is that Stephen sees in Luke that makes him want to see him again. It’s like Stephen became another character between his first scene and his successive ones.

The plot between the live-in boyfriends is overly dramatic. As third sub-plot, its heavy tone takes away from the other two plots development substantially.

Marilyn’s questioning of her sexuality after receiving a kiss from her co-sponsor in AA seems to be more of a plot thrown in to keep the lesbians happy. As a sub-plot it isn’t a total failure. Virginia Bryan’s awkwardness at the kiss is well played. She conveys that mixture of surprise and “do I like this/do I not”mental struggle. After the moment, her question of her sexuality seems a bit forced, but the resolution is an excellent and surprising one.

While the overall plots of the film were lacking, the acting and editing was better than I’ve seen in other gay films. The colors are rich and the characters move beyond the usual cardboard-stiff acting to be believable in their various scenes (aside from the incongruity mentioned earlier with Charlie David’s character). This carries through to the sex scenes. David and Archer go at each other with a passion that is real, intense and hot. No tentative butterfly guy-on-guy kissing here. If I were kissing either of them this is certainly the way I would act. Their first scene, also, offers a good glimpse of both actors nude bodies (sorry, guys, no frontal) and the final scene where Archer undresses and works his way down David’s torso is a very hot and sensual scene. The final scene of Marilyn is also a hot one, which I won’t review as to not spoil the resolution, but it had me turned on.

If you are looking for a decent date night movie or something that rises above the lackluster offerings that permeate gay films, A Four Letter Word is worth watching.

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