Tom brings Clay home with only one thing on his mind. The next morning, Clay gives Tom his number and leaves, clearly hoping to hear from him. For Tom, however, Clay is obviously just one of a long string of anonymous lovers.
As Tom moves on with his life, Clay becomes obsessed with him; pining for his phone call and letting himself go somewhat in the process. So much so, in fact, that when Clay, now sporting a beard, bumps into Tom at a laundromat, the latter doesn’t even recognize him. In the familiar seduction that follows, Clay again goes home with Tom…only this time, he introduces himself as Jesus.
I’m not sure if it’s reassuring or somehow twice as depressing to learn that many gay guys tend to be as shallow and superficial as their straight counterparts. Yet, that seems to be the implication in director Hoang A. Duong’s moody and cleverly constructed film “Tom Clay Jesus.” Duong has structured “TCJ” as a sort of internal triptych, telling the same story from each of the “three” characters’ points of view and successfully juggling the timeline in the process in order to pull off this tricky task.
Many of us would like to be the proverbial fly on the wall; wishing for a chance to hear what someone says about us when we’re not around. Though he fears what he’ll hear, “Jesus” can’t help himself. He has to take this rare chance to get Tom’s take on Clay, that is to say, himself. The resulting feedback, as awkward for him as it is for the audience, is precisely what makes “Tom Clay Jesus” such a poignant film.