Jessie is spending his last weekend in San Francisco. He’s an artist and in his 30s (which is apparently the age of the gay mid-life crisis since we all become invisible after 40/45. Ya gotta start early). He is planning on returning to Ohio to try and get his life in some kind of direction. As he states, San Fran is more or less chock full or artists, so, maybe he’ll do better in Ohio. He’s really not sure.
In actuality, a lot of the characters of the film seem not to sure about anything. In addition to being unsure about his move back to Ohio, Jessie seems unsure about where he and his ex Ben stand. Ben seems to want to reconnect with Jessie, but then he seems to want to also connect with a smart-talking and funny mutual friend; whose name I can’t remember. The neighbors, whose names I also can’t remember, are unsure about their plan to move in together. The move-in person of this couple wants his boyfriend to clean. This leads the neighbor boyfriend and Jessie to a light talk about boundaries and compromise that is supposed to give some insight into the characters, but leaves them coming off as shallow. And this is the main problem with I Want Your Love.
You’re supposed to be looking at these characters and identifying with them or at least caring about them, but the struggles they face are so overwrought that they just come off as whiny; especially at the age that they are portraying. Most of the gays that I know have it a little bit more together at 30 than the characters of I Want Your Love. Had the characters been 20, then I would have found it a bit more believable.
Two things that I Want Your Love does have going for it are the acting and the sex. Unlike some other queer cinema that I’ve seen, the dialogue is believable, if not the characters. This is especially true in the opening scene; a close up of Jessie in a random table discussion with his friends. At this point they all appear off screen. This conversation is very natural and true to the conversations that many of us have in our everyday lives. And while the constant angst of the characters comes off as annoying pretty early on in the movie, at least it never comes off as plastic line reading.
The sex is hot and while gratuitously shot, it is never gratuitous. The actors are on screen having sex right before your very eyes. This includes oral sex, ejaculation and penetration. But the sex they are having actually fits with the character development that happens within the movie. The only caveat that I would add to this is the final scene between Jessie and an older downstairs neighbor. That scene seemed more of the cliché ‘I’m sad; do me’ scene that we see in too many other movies.
Props to Mathews for casting real actors vs. model types. These guys are guys that you would encounter everyday. They’re not fantasy dudes and that adds to the level of titillation for the sex scenes. I was also pleased to see diverse cultures and races in the cast. Unfortunately, all of these positives can’t make up for a theme, story and characters that had me irritated and longing for the credits to role.