March 10, 2011

Alex and Leo (DVD Review)
by Billy Gil, Home Media Magazine, 10 Mar, 2011

I hate to say it, but the gay film canon is littered with poorly made movies. We should be forgiven as viewers for thinking a movie such as Alex and Leo would be just another low-rent shirtless gay romp.

It isn’t. German film Alex and Leo is a sweet movie, low in budget but light and entertaining, with a lot of heart.

The film sees Leo, newly out after telling his long-time girlfriend (Barbara Kowa in a brief yet memorable performance) that he’s gay, pursuing Alex, who’s just discovered his boyfriend was cheating on him with a doltish twink and filming it. Rather than fall into stereotypes, the movie plays out more like real life: Alex is wary of the handsome yet shy Leo, and his friends alternate between accepting (lovely Sascia Haj as the unfortunately named Steffi Graf) and venomous (over-the-top Udo Lutz as Tobi).

There’s no big drama here, and the film does suffer from tonal shifts (Leo’s coming out is dead-serious, compared with the film’s lightheartedness otherwise) and bad, incomplete subtitles (sample line: How long have we been knowing each other?).

But it’s nice to see gay life played out realistically, as the gay men and their female companions hang out, get brunch and go dancing, sans any heavy-handed lessons and only minor camp. Its messages about relationships and being true to oneself ring true, and the film does interestingly explore how the gay community reacts to someone newly out, as seen through Leo’s eyes. Mostly though, it’s an enjoyable gay romantic comedy that doesn’t pander and mostly delivers on its modest budget.