Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 29/11/2017

BAG BOY LOVER BOY

We’re always on the lookout for something a little quirky and off-the-wall here at STARBURST, and this low budget effort (actually made in 2014) ticks all the boxes as a cult hit. Some films, however, try far too hard to win over the hipster cool crowd with bizarreness. We’re happy to report that Bag Boy Lover Boy manages to walk the tightrope of knowing weirdness perfectly.

Albert (Wachter) is an unfortunate-looking hot dog vender with what appears to be the weakest bladder in the world working the late night booze-hound shift in downtown New York. While enduring another abusive customer, he’s approached by a photographer, Ivan (Bouloukos), who gives him his card tells him to contact him as he wants to use him in his work. Now Albert is a bit of loner, his only friend is Lexy (Gori), who’s nice to him just to get free food. She’s swept off her feet one night by a handsome chap who also claims to be a photographer. Maybe there’s something in this art thing after all? Going to Ivan’s studio, he’s subjected to posing in an overly sexualised way with a half-naked woman when, in fact, he was under the impression he was going to learn all about art and photography. Ivan convinces Albert to pose once more with the promise of teaching him some tricks of the trade; he even gives him his old Polaroid camera to practice with.

The freedom and confidence (all cribbed from listening to Ivan) the camera gives Albert is astounding. He begins to live the life of a successful artist. Except he doesn’t have an ounce of talent, and he needs to be shown how to take an in-focus image by a guy in a camera store. Picking up women - mostly prostitutes and passed-out drunks - on the street, he takes them to Ivan’s studio to live the dream - which will soon become a nightmare for the models.

It’s hard to describe what kind of audience would enjoy Bag Boy Lover Boy, but it certainly will find a certain niche and a cult following. Despite its John Waters-type aesthetic, it’s actually well-made and once you get past the off-kilter delivery of Wachter (the most unlikely lead in a film of recent years), is incredibly entertaining. It can be viewed as a strange and distressing look into the extremes of NY life, from the uneducated and outcast Albert to the elevated status of Ivan, the superstar artist, there’s plenty of social commentary (particularly about the perception of beauty) and it’s not a pretty sight. That’s not to say it’s not fun. There are no jokes or comedic set-ups, but the naturalistic nature of the performances and raw dialogue never fail to amuse. Often, it’s actually the absurd nature of events that brings the most rewards.

Unlike many filmmakers who aim for the cult market, director Torres hasn’t fully gone down the gross-out or base humour path. It’s certainly not for everyone, but there will definitely be an audience for this oddity.

As bonus features on the release are an interesting if unessential commentary and a pair of very short student films made by the star Wachter. These are almost worth the price of purchase alone and prove that looks aren’t everything.

BAG BOY LOVER BOY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ANDRES TORRES / SCREENPLAY: ANDRES TORRES, TONI COMAS / STARRING: THEODORE BOULOUKOS, JON WACHTER, KATHY BIEHL, ADRIENNE GORI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW