Hollywood Je t’aime (Jason Bushman, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Byron Potau.  Viewed at The Mann Festival Theatre as part of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.

The gay and lesbian community has in writer/director Jason Bushman’s Hollywood Je t’aime a film that they can be very proud of.  For the heterosexual viewer, there is plenty to enjoy if viewers are tolerant and comfortable with their own sexuality, and if not, they’re missing out on a wonderfully charming film.

Gay Parisian, Jerome Beaunez (Eric Debets), flies to sunny Los Angeles after his break up with boyfriend Gilles (Jonathan Blanc), with a vague idea of becoming an actor.  Jerome immediately falls in with the gay crowd including pot dealer Ross (Chad Allen), and transsexual Kaleesha (Diarra Kilpatrick) and transvestite Norma Desire (Michael Airington).  He is able to crash in a spare bedroom at Norma’s place while with Ross’s help he is able to get a couple of auditions, and finally land a commercial.  Gilles continues to pop up as Jerome’s subconscious, offering advice on his situation.

This film is a surprisingly fresh and funny light comedy that, at times, gets very graphic in its depiction of the gay lifestyle.  Eric Debets is wonderful as the soft spoken and charming Jerome, and we cannot help but like him just as much as everyone in the film does.  The rest of the cast is just as good, never becoming annoying and staying true to who they are.  It is very refreshing to see gay characters portrayed with such a full depth to their personalities rather than the annoying caricatures we got from Gus Van Sant’s Milk.  Bushman clearly has a feeling for who these characters are, and is able to show us the full personality making them much more than gay characters.

The film shines most brightly in the hilarious audition and acting scenes as Bushman is able to zero in on every laughable excess, insincerity, desperation, and phoniness with just a single line or action.  Intelligently written and directed, every one of these scenes is a gem and will especially have those in the know rolling in the aisles; however, they are not so obtuse that others won’t get the joke.  This is a delightful film for everyone but the most prejudiced.

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