Urban Cinefile
"I'll keep doing it for a while but I've got other interests and one day I may just say to hell with it. Then again I may not - "  -Clint Eastwood at 70
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday September 16, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Billy (Sean P. Hayes) is a photographer who yearns to reproduce classic Hollywood Screen Kisses with gay male couples dressed for the part. Spurned by his lover Fernando (Armando Valdes-Kennedy), he goes out in search of his friends for his re-creation shots. At a party he finds the face he has been looking for, Gabriel (Brad Rowe). Billy's affection turns to infatuation and his seemingly ambiguous sexuality. Surrounded, urged, cajoled and consoled on by his friends Perry (Richard Ganoung) and George (Meredith Scott Lynn), Billy goes in search of the truth of Gabriel's sexuality, his own screen kiss and happiness with the right man.

"The screen kiss is a moment of high drama and great symbolism in classical Hollywood. It was the moment when the orchestra soared and the camera tracked in for a beautifully lit close-up of the hero and heroine becoming 'one'. Those Hollywood screen kisses represent for director Tommy O’Haver a highly stylised romantic view of relationships which is lost in the present open and frank sexual climate. They are also suitable for pastiche and are a perfect subject for camp humour. Thus O'Havers film uses back projected scenes and recreations from b/w Hollywood kisses in front of which his characters cavort and mime. Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss is a funny, perhaps minor film, which nevertheless has its charm and an almost naive approach to love throughout. The traditional ‘will she won't she’ is replaced by ‘is he isn't he’ question. Paul Bartel as old gay photographer Rex Webster (presumably a salute to Bruce Webber) is fabulous and the film lifts whenever his seedy character is on screen. Two other supporting actors - Meredith Scott Lynn (playing George) and Brad Rowe (Gabriel) are well cast and suit their gutsy female friend with Howard Hawks repartee and imitation Brad Pitt beautiful hunk characters respectively. Which leaves Billy as the lead character with the most doubt - there are some strong moments in his role, especially when he monologues difficult periods in his sexual life - but overall he is a bit too innocent and too trusting to be on the fringes of the LA gay art scene, which is perhaps why the film relies on his fantasies and disconnection from reality...screen kisses do the same."
Hunter Cordaiy

"From its zippy opening titles sequence, a throwback to 60s pop culture, Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss is an affable piece of entertainment, delightfully charming and witty. Its low-budget look is balanced by a wry and witty screenplay by first-time writer/director Tommy O'Haver, who has made a film that's as much a tribute to Hollywood romanticism, as to sexual mores in the nineties. What we have is a film full of clever dialogue and eccentric characters, in an original and entertaining package. No wonder this crowd-pleaser has proven so popular at recent film festivals. Sean P. Hayes, who gives a delightfully comic performance, yet a performance full of depth, plays the title character with panache and freewheeling gusto. Brad Rowe and Meredith Scott Lynn provide solid support. O'Haver directs his screenplay with unpretentious style, allowing his freethinking characters to speak for themselves. Whether the film's gay subject will cross over remains to be seen, but it's not so much a film about being gay, but being eternally optimistic and haplessly romantic. Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss is a delight, irrespective of one's sexual orientation."
Paul Fischer

"This is the kind of movie that tells you what it is - literally. The opening sequence, making use of a series of Polaroids arranged across the screen grabs your attention. The first line of the film, spoken by Billy of the title, is "I am a homosexual." And then shortly after, "And a warning - there are no tits in this film." This disarming honesty continues through the film as we get to know Billy, a fun, wonderfully likeable character. Calling this a gay film, however, is selling it short. Yes, Billy is gay and yes he's chasing a man who may or may not be gay. Billy's stated intention is to explore the enormous region between gay and straight, which this film does and is actually quite educational for a sheltered suburban kid like myself. The story itself could be straight, gay, whatever, it's the universal love story and not especially original. It is enjoyable enough and will probably make inroads into commercial cinema. Part of the honesty is the amusing way the gay cast seem to be sending themselves up. Plenty of jokes to break the sexual tension. Billy's obsession with classic Hollywood screen kisses is woven into the movie, with amusing visual references to 40s and 50s flicks, using cool screen wipes and spotlights at unexpected times. The editing, direction and sound are a bit amateur but this was obviously a low-budget film. I'm still trying to work out if they deliberately filmed night scenes during the day to echo the 50s look as a joke, or whether it really was the result of the budget. Sean P Hayes is wonderfully and permanently wide-eyed through the entire film and has great comic timing and Meredith Scott-Lynn is hilarious as (straight) George. The rest of the performances are pedestrian, but it doesn't matter."
Peter Anderson

Email this article



Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2




CAST: Sean P. Hayes, Brad Rowe, Tichard Ganoung, Meredith Scott Lynn, Matthew Ashford, Armando Valdes-Kennedy, Paul Bartel

DIRECTOR: Tommy O’Haver

PRODUCER: David Moseley

SCRIPT: Tommy O’Haver


EDITOR: Jeff Betancourt

MUSIC: Alan Ari Lazar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco Giacomo-Carbone

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: February 14, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren Entertainment

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019