By Don Simpson | September 9, 2015
Director: Michael J. Saul
Writer: Michael J. Saul
Starring: Harry Hains, Michael Redford Carney, Nicholas McDonald, Kyle Patrick Darling, Samantha Bowling, Jinny Chung
After a tumultuous childhood of getting shuffled from one foster home to the next, Evan (Harry Hains) is in search for some semblance of security. That is precisely why Evan currently finds himself stuck in a strained and turbulent relationship with his wealthy boyfriend Chris (Nicholas McDonald). Chris provides Evan with all of the material security that he needs, but their relationship is fraught with inequalities. Most importantly, Evan relies upon Chris’ money for survival, so he really has no other option but to stay with Chris…or find another sugar daddy.
Upon fatefully unearthing a vintage 8mm camera at a garage sale, Evan is able to examine notions of family, security and happiness via home movies that came along with the camera. Evan decides to edit together a short film with the archival footage to screen at a film festival at his school, leading him to befriend Peter (Michael Redford), a 40-something man who is one of the subjects of the home movies.
Quite subtly conveyed, Michael J. Saul’s The Surface moves slowly and deliberately, allowing Evan’s relationship with Chris to unravel naturally. Saul’s film drips with intimacy and sensuality, but is remarkably restrained in both areas. The themes of The Surface skillfully transcend sexuality and gender. Saul carefully presents Evan as a character who just wants someone to care for and protect him. Evan is essentially a trophy wife, someone whose physical beauty attracts people who want to help him. His sexuality is less important than his sensuality and presence.
The Surface screens as part of the 28th annual Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF). For more information, check out the aGLIFF Program.