Evan (Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski) is an aspiring writer who thinks he may have landed a major break when he’s hired by a large newspaper to write a feature piece. He decides the best subject is the world of those who create Toronto’s hippest and most popular club nights, so he follows successful promoter Hunter (Ryan Fisher) around to find out more about his life.
However while his career seems to be going in the right direction, Evan’s own life is rather stuck. Haunted by the face of a beautiful man (Matthew Ludwinski), he spends his days finding out about all sorts of different people – from a straight couple who are perfectly fine with the fact one of them is a transvestite, to a gay couple with a football fetish – but his own private life is seemingly stuck in stasis.
If you’re the type of person who demands their films have lots of plot and high drama, Seek is probably not the movie for you. Indeed there’s not a vast amount of plot with the film more interested in being an examination of modern life, acceptance and the ennui many people feel where life isn’t bad but their hopes for the future may make them blind to what’s actually around them.
There are certainly times when it’s a little preachy, and its tendency to side-track into individual lives and explanations of things that are only tangentially linked to the main plot sometimes slows things down, but it’s a thoughtful and interesting movie where its earnest intent shines through. Although its mission to look at aspects of gay life that aren’t often highlighted sometimes just covers territory that’s actually been covered quite a lot, at its romantic heart it does find some new ways to tackle its story in amongst a lot that isn’t as original as it might think it is.
There are also some excellent moments, such as Evan’s awkward encounter with an older gentleman in a bar who says he’s new on the scene and wants to make ‘friends’. It’s done in a completely non-judgemental way, so you can see it from both men’s perspective and how from different viewpoints it could be seen as awkward, creepy, sweet, lonely, pushy or ageist, and that both men could be doing either the right or wrong thing – but at its heart it’s two men trying to express themselves without offending the other.
The film is partially based on writer/director Eric Henry’s life, and with some sections of the movie you can feel the echoes of real, lived experience, which certainly helps give a sense of authenticity and honesty to what he’s trying to do with the movie. He also manages to create a film that looks a lot more polished than a lot of low-budget LGBT-themed fare, which also benefits from a good soundtrack.
Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski is good as Evan, and it’s particularly necessary to have someone strong in this central role as initially Evan seems a bit like a cipher for what’s going on around him, and for allowing the people he meets to talk about their lives. There is a reason he’s a cipher, as he is a man whose life is drifting but that take a while to establish itself, so it needs an actor who can hold the film for the first half hour and not make the seem a little blank, and Shepherd-Gawinski certainly manages that. Many will also appreciate the very attractive presence of Going Down In La La Land’s Matthew Ludwinski, even if for most of the running time he is a silent fantasy figure.
Overall Verdict: Although some will find it a little slow and lacking in incident, Seek’s fascination with people, modern life, and learning acceptance and happiness, slowly begins to have an effect and it turns into something worthwhile.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac