TOM IN AMERICA Image

TOM IN AMERICA

By admin | January 2, 2014

Filmmaker Flavio Alves deserves thanks and praise for giving a pair of wonderful but woefully under-utilized old pros, Burt Young and Sally Kirkland, the starring roles in this disturbing short film. Young plays a flea market vendor who picks through trash dumps in search of items to sell. Kirkland is his wife of 50 years, though her patience is tested with her husband’s crotchety moods.

Things get a bit problematic when Young’s character discovers a doll patterned after Tom of Finland’s distinctive gay fetish art. The doll triggers a rapid emotional unraveling that results in a long overdue confession about his buried impulses to his understandably confused and upset wife.

I am not certain if this short film is the basis of a potential feature. A longer running time might support this story with greater ease – as a short film, the plot unfurls in a jagged manner, and the climactic confession feels like was dropped in a hectic rush.

But if the story isn’t exactly a smooth tale, Young and Kirkland still have the star power to turn a thorny screenplay into a compelling drama. Young brilliantly captures the quiet anguish of an elderly man who accidentally unlocks a long-held secret – the depiction of his secret dream is wonderfully directed by Alves in a blunt style – while Kirkland is genuinely heartbreaking as a woman who truly never understood her husband of the past century. It is a joy to see this duo on the screen together, and I sincerely hope that Alves has more reel time envisioned for them.

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