The description of Cut Sleeve Boys on its official site promises a pathetic show of minstrelsy: “…a quirky stir fried journey of self discovery and ultimately, a makeover of the British Chinese gay experience.” But the film’s pretense to cultural discourse, for better and for worse, begins and ends with its title, an allusion to the story that explains the origins of the Chinese word for homosexuality. This legend is given a modern-day context in the only good scene from the movie, when Ash (Chowee Leow) must cut off the sleeve of his dress in order to run from the bed of his sleeping lover. Otherwise, Cut Sleeve Boys, which largely concerns the emotional fallout of gay men having threesomes and falling in love with men while dressed as women, barely transgresses racial boundaries, and in its desperate interspersion of shrill drama queenery with phony shows of soap operatic seriousness it confirms its allegiance to the lousy aesthetic and cringe-inducing storytelling mode of Queer as Folk, not to mention most Logo programming. Oddly, the only thing Chinese about this mess are the faces of its characters, whose worries have almost nothing to do with their cultural identity. (It isn’t even particularly British—not even a glimpse of Piccadilly Square!) These twits—one an effete “camp” gay, the other a loathsome muscle queen—probably wouldn’t be close friends in the real world, though director Ray Yeung seems to think their Asian heritage is enough to bring them together. When Mel (Steve Lim) proudly tells his romantically-minded and ridiculously fuckable boy toy, Todd (Gareth Rhys Davis), about how he went from being “Made in China” to “Made in London” at some luxe retail job, he is essentially flaunting his whitewash. Yeung understands the role initiation plays in the formation of gay identity, but the adorable Todd’s transformation into a fashion-minded snob isn’t believable, and by denying Mel a chance at redemption, he refreshingly condemns the apathy of the circuit-boy lifestyle without ever understanding how Mel’s egomania reveals a desperate show of cultural denial. For a film that is so whiny, Yeung’s lack of compassion is shocking.
- Regent Releasing
- 86 min
- Ray Yeung
- Ray Yeung
- Chowee Leow, Steven Lim, Gareth Rhys Davis, Neil Collie, John "Ebon-knee" Campbell, Paul Cox, Mark Hampton, David Cary, David Tse, Michelle Lee, Shirley Chantrell, Paul Courtenay Hyu
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