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Watercolors is a coming of age story about Danny, a gifted artist, and Carter, a sexy rebellious swimmer. When they meet due to family circumstances and are forced to be room-mates for the weekend, it is clear that they will be more than just friends. Eventually.
The film opens with Danny as an adult.
He is a successful artist with a good looking boyfriend but who is haunted by the past, unable to let go of his first true love, Carter, and the story unfolds in flashbacks, detailing how they fell in love over pencils and Romeo & Juliet.
There are some strong performances in Watercolors. Danny’s mum, played by Casey Kramer, is wonderful as the doting single mum, her every word as caring as each of Danny’s brushstrokes. Mrs. Martin, superbly played by Karen Black, is the teacher we all either had or wished we had. Her words of wisdom inspire and help Danny’s talents soar. Danny, Tye Olsen, pulls in a terrific performance too, with a believable take on someone who is completely besotted by this high-school jock.
Unfortunately, Watercolors is a film that wants to be liked. Written and directed by David Oliveras, this is obviously his labour of love. His heart and soul have been laid bare into a script with lines that scream out “use me in the trailer”. It’s like watching all the best lines from Steel Magnolias condensed into 100 minutes. And that’s one of the areas which makes this film rather disappointing. It wants to be witty. It wants to be funny. It wants, like its hero, to be loved. When a writer sets out to create a masterpiece, it rarely becomes such as the audience can read through the intentions.
This is not a bad movie but it really isn’t a great movie either. It is let down by a director whose style becomes pretentious when he is obviously meaning to be artistic. Raining indoors to suggest the two boys passion is a little too like being in a Madonna video for my liking.
I really wanted to like this film. It’s got all the right ingredients; a back story with hunky naked men, the bullies we love to hate, the arty advice that stirs our soul. Yet, what starts out as a fairly promising film becomes increasingly clichéd and unoriginal – with lines such as “if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything”.
Watercolors won numerous awards in 2008 at Outfest and Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, including “Outstanding First Dramatic Feature”, “Best Actor” for Tye, “Best Supporting Actor” for Kyle who plays Carter and “Best Director”. I can see why, as this is the type of film that always wins some kind of award at festivals, but this one is just a little too long at 100 minutes and Tye lacks the depth to play all the emotions required from the script.
Again, this is not a bad film by any means but the ending is frustrating and can be seen coming a mile off. Just keep your mind as open as a parachute and the landing won’t be as bumpy as it could be.
Watercolors is out now and from TLA Releasing.
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