Eban and Charley (2000)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Although it strives to offer a subtle, non-judgmental look at the taboo topic of man-boy love, this shoestring-budget indie from novice auteur James Bolton suffers from script problems, leaden pacing, and lead actors whose performances suggest that they've taken one too many antianxiety pills. Giovanni Andrade plays teenaged Charley as equally vapid and vulnerable, which makes narrative sense but isn't much fun to watch. At least the character's backstory -- dead mother, violent father -- gives the plot a believable context. The real problems lie with the character of Eban and the actor who portrays him. In his first feature role, Brent Fellows seems to lack the acting chops to give the audience much of a read on Eban, a soccer coach who can't shake his self-destructive attraction to adolescent boys. The character wanders through the film looking zonked-out and helpless and committing acts so reckless that one can't tell whether he's supposed to be stupid or just naïve. The script isn't much help, for it scrimps on Eban's history, striving for ambiguity, but instead leaving him a cipher. This less-is-more approach does allow one to view Eban as either a sad, reluctant predator or a loving alternative to Charley's troubled home life. In the end, though, the lack of a definite perspective, coupled with the weak acting and generally amateur production values, leaves nothing but a limp, washed-out letdown. The soundtrack, by acclaimed pop composer Stephin Merritt, may please fans of his band the Magnetic Fields, but it's so much more polished than the rest that it simply stands out. At a time when the bugaboos of child pornography and sexual abuse are used to cripple civil liberties, a sensitive, multifaceted look at the age of consent might be in order. This isn't it.