|Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
|Adam & Steve
One of the leading actors of the New Queer Cinema is Craig
Chester, who made a memorable debut at Nathan Leopold in Tom
Kalin’s 1992 classic SWOON. Since then, Chester has acted in some
intriguing features ranging from GRIEF (1993) to I SHOT ANDY
WARHOL (1996) to CIRCUIT (2001). Even in small roles, Chester is
a screen presence that cannot be overlooked. Now he’s moved behind
the camera as director and screenwriter on the very amusing romantic
comedy ADAM & STEVE, which has been traveling the festival circuit
(including Tribeca and NewFest in New York City).
ADAM & STEVE opens in 1987 at Danceteria, one of the hot
nightspots in its day. A dance troupe, who wouldn’t be out of place on
“SOLID GOLD,” is entertaining the patrons. The lead dancer is the
chiseled, handsome Steve (Malcolm Gets). Enter Adam (Chester) and
his best girlfriend Rhonda (the always reliable Parker Posey in a fat suit),
both decked out in Goth attire, and clearly out of place. Nevertheless,
Adam is immediately attracted to Steve, and after a false start, it proves
to be a mutual attraction. Steve offers the Goths some cocaine and
later agrees to go home with Adam. Once at Adam’s apartment, a
rather unsettling (and depending on your sense of humor, hilarious)
“accident” occurs, resulting in the pair going their separate ways.
Flash forward 17 years and Adam is in recovery, attending various
12-step meetings. He’s also still single. Rhonda has dropped a huge
amount of weight, but persists in performing her comedy act built
around her large size. When Adam injures his dog by accident, he
rushes the pooch to the nearest hospital and he again meets Steve,
who is now a psychiatrist. Neither recognizes the other beyond the
vague, “you remind me of someone” thing. So, after a few false starts,
the pair eventually begins dating, until the moment when Steve comes
to realize that he has met Adam before and freaks.
Chester’s script is a series of set pieces that all contain exaggerated
characters for comic effect. There are numerous one-liners that hit the
mark and the central relationship follows its ups and downs along the
lines of a conventional romantic comedy with a homosexual spin. Credit
has to go to the superlative acting of Chester and Gets, both “out” actors
who share a terrific and believable chemistry. Posey does her usual great
work as Rhonda while Chris Kattan is amusing as Michael, Steve’s
heterosexual roommate who develops a thing for Rhonda. There are
also funny cameos from Sally Kirkland as the moderator of a 12-step
group, Melinda Dillon as Gets’ uptight mother, and Julie Hagerty and
Paul Sand as Chester’s accident-prone parents.
While some of the set pieces may possess a cartoon-like feel – a
repeated scene of a gay-bashing, for instance – Chester has wisely
maintained the same tone throughout the film. Indeed, much of the
humor evolves from that over-the-top quality. As such, ADAM & STEVE
may not be to everyone’s taste, but the audience at NewFest (myself
included) enjoyed this romantic romp.
Viewed at NewFest 2005 at the Loews State Theater