(2018, 94 min)
Country: U. S.
Director: Mark Wilshin
Studio: TLA Releasing
Twenty-year-old footballer Will (Jo Weil) is in the middle of his bachelor party in an unnamed European city when, naked and handcuffed to a lamppost, he is rescued by former pianist Michael (Pip Brignall). Back at Michael's apartment, the attraction between the two men is immediate. But, unable to bring himself to leave, Will is sent into a tailspin of shame and confusion. And so they spend a night together that could change both of their lives forever. If only they have the courage to let it.
Mark Wilshin's debut feature film, "Sodom", takes us into an unnamed European city where Will (Pip Brignall), a naked man is handcuffed to a lamppost. Michael (Jo Weill), a passer-by rescues him and invites him back to his apartment where they have sex. Michael seems to be well off; he lives alone in a nice apartment and he is direct and self-assured in his fascination with Will maybe at first even predatory in his fascination with Will. Will thinks of himself as straight even though he had indulged in gay sex in the past.
The two men learn more about each other during the course of the night and as they reveal more about themselves, their mutual attraction becomes palpable and sex becomes intimate and tender. Their dialogue is honest and they touch upon the complex issues of gay identity and the human condition. As an older gay man, Michael speaks of his own experience of finding himself and not looking back. He has freed himself so that he can relate to the world in his own way. He tries to convince Will that he can do anything he wants and Michael has opened his eyes. As, Will realizes he has to choose his future.
This is an intimate encounter between two souls and as they chat, make love and try to achieve mutual self-discovery. The entire story takes place and is straightforward portrait of two men with their pasts, their feelings, their fears and their hopes.
Through their dialogue we get overview of the lives of the two males: Will is about to get married with a girl and she doesn't know that he is attracted to guys, while Michael has broken up with his long-time partner. There is a perfect imbalance between these two figures, one is free of constraints and labels, and the other is repressed and can't accept his nature. Their confrontation explores their differences, but also all the possibilities they both are missing.
The acting is excellent. Brignall and Weil have incredible chemistry. The direction is outstanding in its delicate and discreet approach in examining LGBTQ issues as coming-out, masculinity and also repression. It is difficult not to fall in love with Will and Michael as we watch intimacy. Will struggles with the reality of his conflicted sexuality and Michael struggles with the loss of his long-term partner. He rationalizes that his own actions drove his partner to abandon him, but we remain wary that there is more to their story. As a sexual mentor, Michael reminds Will that he could be his future self. Will's encounter with Michael makes him question the life that he is soon to commit to and their night together proves crucial to this struggle as he is left to choose between carrying on as before, or plunging into the unknown.
While it is clear that Will is struggling with internal and external pressures that suppress his sexuality, the film also emphasizes the fact that sexuality is not just black and white. From considerations of gay male stereotypes, to the conflict between passion and companionship, we are reminded that romance has the potential to be fluid. The circumstances of the evening imply that Will is in the closet, however, this becomes skewed by the tenderness with which he talks of his fiancÚ. His self-denial is ambiguous at times and it is left to the audience to judge making us aware of society's overbearing dependency on sexual labels.
This is a sensitive depiction of instant attraction and the excitement that comes with it. However, wider social considerations are what gives the film its bite. Layered with the biblical reference to which the title refers, the film expands its scope beyond the physicality of the two leads.
-- Review by Amos Lassen, Reviews By Amos Lassen (https://www.reviewsbyamoslassen.com)