The first project of the here! gay television network’s new movie initiative, Shelter regrettably plays closer to Lifetime fodder. Having traded art-school aspirations for thankless family obligations, Zach (Trevor Wright) finds himself stranded as a perpetually underappreciated burger-flipper and babysitter in San Pedro, California. When not taking care of his nephew while older sister Jeanne (Tina Holmes) sleeps with her latest nightclub acquaintance, he finds fleeting escape riding the waves. It doesn’t occur to Zach that the reason he keeps breaking up with his girlfriend Tori (Katie Welder) might be that he prefers boys, though the thought gradually penetrates his mind as he meets Shaun (Brad Rowe), an easygoing Orange County writer who becomes his surf buddy and guide out of the closet. The worn cliché of the playful scuffle that escalates into a first kiss might have been redeemed by some horned-up action, but Jonah Markowitz’s film remains a docile coming-out tale, its sex as tepid as its dramaturgy is earnest. There’s a potentially interesting concept in developing the protagonist’s sexual identity in tandem with his blossoming as an artist, yet both elements are rudimentarily realized; Zach’s attitude toward his newfound queerness is reduced to idle shorthand (a furtive glance at a dude’s buff bod, nervous eye-rolling when sis asks if he’s a “fag”), while his renewed interest in visual arts is just a setup for a pat finale. Gentle-spirited but exceedingly pedestrian and guilty of alt-rock montages to boot, Shelter could use less circumscribed sensitivity and more barbed insights (or, at least, fewer clothes).
- Regent Releasing
- 88 min
- Jonah Markowitz
- Jonah Markowitz
- Trevor Wright, Brad Rowe, Tina Holmes, Jackson Wurth, Katie Walder, Ross Thomas, Albert Reed, Joy Gohring
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