Starring Ryan Vigilant, Karmine Alers, and Benjamin Weaver
Directed by Richard LeMay
Naked As We Came is beautifully shot, its cinematography reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, both using deep colours to depict the flora surrounding tumultuous country life. Although in Naked, the country house is a slick, white, one-floor Bauhaus structure which compliments the natural setting.
The good element of the movie ends there, since it mostly mishandles its characters and plot. The younger characters include siblings Elliot (Ryan Vigilant from television’s Gossip Girl) and Laura (Karmine Alers from RENT). As New Yorkers they’re mostly in gray – with the exception of Elliot’s occasional red gym shorts. A third sombrely gray-clad twenty-something is Ted (Benjamin Weaver), a novelist whose best-selling status isn’t economically viable enough so he ends up taking care of their cancer-stricken, estranged mother Lilly (Lue McWilliams). Now Lilly is a hoot, her silk robes resembling that of a dowager mistress – the character having had a love child with a fictional US senator. She’s crotchety funny, intentionally or otherwise, her guttural alto will never get as old as she’s becoming. I like her despite being a device used to reinforce the unwarranted opinions that the movie is forcing upon us. Let me explain.
Ted inserts, among other things, his opinions into the drama of a family he works for. Elliot is similarly thinly conceived, looking at Ted with some trepidation but mostly lust. This makes it easy for both to drink brown liquor together in the pool while they’re wearing swimming trunks and for the latter to show up at the former’s bedroom, demanding the sex that he gets without abandon. Days later, Ted asks Elliot if the latter think it’s in bad taste that they have slept together. The answer is yes, which gets his feelings hurt. It’s sad that I have to condescendingly repeat myself for my readers but this is only because the characters themselves have forgotten how their non-relationship is. Elliot is Ted’s boss’s son, Ted is Elliot’s mom’s employee. They’re not on equal footing. I don’t care if the other person looks like an Avenger, neither do I care if that sounds classist or that it’s 2012. There is no time ever when it’s okay to cross boundaries between employee and employer. This material is great for internet soft core stories, but not for a movie. I’m not one to talk but this is a movie version of ‘You’re gay and so is he, you guys should date!’
What’s worse is that Lilly approves of this, no matter how disastrous the consequences might be for her to throw her son into the sculpted biceps of some hustler. And that Laura disapproving of this fling and wanting him to live with a stable career makes her so shrill, am I right?
This movie also feels like watching shorthand and that doesn’t just go with the characters feelings being aired out so suddenly. The dialogue is filled with arguing characters describing each other. I would like to have a longer version of this story, where the characters can behave organically and their comfort zones dropping later rather than sooner, letting us, the audience, judge these characters more appropriately.
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