Excellent concept; okay execution. Phoenix tells the story of two men spurned by a mutual lover who find solace in each other’s arms. The concept has the potential to be sexy and psychological; an examination of how we rebound and why. Does it help to resolve emotions or only complicate them? The film does a decent job exploring this question, but the set up to get there leaves us with questions that are never satisfactorily answered and prevents us from connecting with the two main characters.
Dylan and Demetrius are drawn together by the mutual betrayal of their lover Ken. Ken is Demetrius’s husband and Dylan’s boyfriend. Ken has been keeping each of the men a secret from each other via the old ‘I’m going on a business trip.’ Dylan lives in Los Angeles; Demetrius lives in Phoenix. Ken is not only playing the two men but also playing the real estate market as well. When a deal goes bad, Ken skips town, the Phoenix of the title. Dylan arrives in town to surprise Ken; then investigate his dissapearence. It is though this that Dylan and Demetrius learn of one another.
At first suspicious of each other, the two men bond over their anger of Ken’s walk out. This anger helps to fuel a whirlwind romance for the pair.
I loved the concept of two spurned lovers drawn together through their mutual connection to the man who betrays them, but for Phoenix, this seemed more like a trope to get Dylan and Demetrius together. There was not enough fleshing out of the Ken character. We learn very little of his real estate dealings, so, when he skips town we’re left hanging with not much knowledge of why. Was is just the deal gone bad? Did Ken realize his worlds were about to collide? We aren’t given enough background about Ken to provide us with a real understanding of why he left, and why Dylan and Demetrius so readily let go of him.
When Demetrius and Dylan learn that Ken has skipped town, they seem to shrug it off. They learn that he is in Chicago. No other details are given to the audience. Rather than chase after him for vengeance sake, confrontation or closure, they take the attitude of ‘Well, he’s gone. Let’s get to know each other.’ Because we lack the information of just why Ken left, this attitude seems abrupt; again demonstrating that Ken really was just a tool of the writer as a plot device. Because we are given no reason why Ken can’t be sought after, we lack an understanding of why the two men don’t chase after him. This inhibits us from empathizing with their rebound and cheering for them once they begin their affair.
I did like the idea of two men finding solace and romance with each other. I also liked that both men viewed the rebound romance through different perspectives. Demetrius views it as a fling; something temporary to balm the ache of Ken’s leaving. Dylan saw it as a possible new beginning. As he states in he movie maybe it was destiny for he and Demetrius to meet. Though this was a little ambiguous at first, it becomes clearer the more time the men spent together.
The end of the story was not a neat wrapped up package, and this is what I liked most. The end was left ambiguous, we, the audience, are left to end the story ourselves as the credits roll.