Director: Michael Showalter | Script: David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage | Cast: Jim Parsons (Michael), Ben Alridge (Kit), Sally Field (Marilyn), Bill Irwin (Bob), Nikki M. James (Nina), ea | Time to play: 112 minutes | Year: 2022
This story does not end well. Normally, as a reviewer, you would be reported, and rightly so, because it is a mortal sin to reveal the result. The film adaptation of the fourteen-year love story between Michael Ausiello and Kit Cowan is different. Ausiello’s book is titled Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, so he, too, already reveals that there’s no happy ending in store. Filmmaker Michael Showalter does the same by opening with the moment the terminally ill Kit almost dies.
The homosexual relationship is acquiring an increasingly realistic tone in film dramas and the ultimate goal is that the gender of the lovers no longer matters. Love is universal, says the hackneyed cliché, but in every cliché there is a grain of truth. spoiler alert it is so full of recognizable scenes that many couples will recognize themselves in it.
Michael and Kit are such opposites that the cliché of them attracting each other is true here as well. The similarity of their names to that series with David Hasselhoff immediately works as an icebreaker. Michael is a journalist for the renowned American magazine TV Guide who prefers to go to bed early, but a colleague drags him to a fetish party. There he meets the handsome photographer Kit, who unexpectedly falls in love with Michael. There is careful dating, but many fears are also expressed.
Michael fears his heart will be broken, while Kit, who hasn’t spoken to her parents yet, fears making a long-term commitment. The first sex, as befits reality, is clumsy and unequal. Michael, once a fat kid, prefers to keep his shirt on and is surprised at the confidence with which Kit removes her clothes. Then comes the time when you have to come clean with your quirks, like a collection of Smurfs that has gotten out of hand. And then disaster strikes…
There is much to be said for the film adaptation of Ausiello’s book. For example, the unbalanced pace with which Showalter walks through the benchmarks of a relationship, with the first discomforts and the decline of the couples’ sexual lives. Or the one-dimensional supporting characters, where Kit’s housemate – who only speaks in monosyllabic words – takes the cake. However, Jim Parsons and Ben Alridge play their leading roles with such finesse that skepticism and a critical eye easily give way to heartfelt emotion.
Michael constantly plays with the question of how his life should have turned out. He lives through his childhood, in which he loses both parents at a young age, as if he were acting in a typical American sitcom. He ensures that emotions alternate at a rapid pace. It’s a much-needed magical-realistic element as the deadly seriousness of life knocks ever harder on the couple’s door.
Because the relationship between the two men is so recognizable, keeping it dry becomes an impossible task. spoiler alert it is drawn from real life and gives a very realistic look at an intense relationship that deserves a happy ending. But even when all is hopelessly lost, Showalter can’t resist inserting an alienating element to ease the pressure for a while. Like life with its ups and downs.