|The M.O. of M.I.
(The Modus Operandi of Male Intimacy
After playing the festival circuit, The M.O. of M.I. arrives on DVD. In adapting his
stage play (with assistance from director Susan Turley), screenwriter Aaron Brown tries
to tackle something different in the genre of "gay" films. His play and the subsequent film
version is essentially a three-hander that traffics in suspense, blackmail and sex. In short,
it has all the earmarks of something fascinating, but Brown's ambition exceeds his grasp. I
first saw this movie at the 2002 New Festival and was quite disappointed, particularly as
other more intriguing entries like The Lawless Heart and AKA were on tap.
Michael (David Stokey) and his younger lover Tom (Cory Schneider) are a
seemingly content couple, settled in a nice house in Texas. One evening, they attend a
show at a local theater (the same one where Brown's play was first produced) and see a
performance art piece by mysterious Jonathan (David Christopher). Michael invites the
stranger back to their home, over Tom's protests. When Jonathan makes his interest in
Michael clear, Tom is further enraged. At this point, the first of the film's "twists" is
revealed: Jonathan and Michael have a sexual history. Jonathan uses that and his
knowledge that Michael's business dealings aren't always above board as a means to
blackmail the pair into letting him crash at their home. His continues presence upsets the
lovers who constantly bicker. After one particularly angry fight, Michael leaves.
Brown then offers another "twist" that is complicated by genuine feelings of
affection. The film then devolves into set pieces of blackmail, double crosses and
bloodshed. At this point, the proceedings become so complicated that the audience is left
feeling confused. It doesn't help that Turley's direction is uneven or that she elicits less
than stellar performances from her cast. While Brown clearly has some intriguing things
to say about trust and how much one actually knows about one's lover, the message gets lost
in the complicated plotting.
From its pretentious title through its denouement, The M.O. of M.I. proves to be a
disappointing entry in the genre of queer cinema.
Running time: 90 mins.
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, language, violence and drug content.
Viewed at the New School as part of 2002 New Festival (NewFest)
|© 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.