Coffee House Chronicles was originally an anthology Youtube web series, but here the episodes get pulled together and slightly recut to turn them into a movie. While that may sound like a slightly cheating way to monetise the show, it actually works surprisingly well. As individual episodes they were quite fun, but pulled together thye add up to more than the sum of their parts, allowing it to layer together a light look at the way modern gay men relate to one another.
The film consists of a series of first encounters (mostly) between gay men, most of which – as the title suggests – take place in coffee houses. These meetings range from a man realising his ‘date’ is much younger than he’s said he was, to someone in a long-term relationship trying to organise sex with a porn star for his boyfriend. There’s also a trans man on his first date with a woman after transitioning, and two zombie extras in a movie figuring out if they want to go on a date even though they don’t know what they really look like under the makeup.
Although it isn’t the most profound film ever made, it makes some nice observations about life in a world where gay guys tend to meet through apps and are more likely to have seen a guy’s dick before meeting them than to know their name. The film is anchored more than anything else by a cure ginger guy (Luis Selgas) who’s having difficulty negotiating the new rules of trying to find a boyfriend, where it often feels like you need to have sex with them before you even vaguely get to know them.
It’s all pretty light and fun, and while some of the acting isn’t the greatest there are some good performers involved, as well as some decent eye-candy. There are plenty of people fans of gay film will recognise, including Drew Droege, David Pevsner, Chris Salvatore, Nicholas Downs, Tommy Dickie, Mark Cirillo and Max Emerson, who all pop up for a few minutes apiece.
As you’d expect, some of the scenes work better than others, and there are a couple which, while fine on their own don’t quite fit with the others. For example, the sequence involving Droege and Salvatore has a nice sentiment and is well put together, but the fact Salvatore is a ghost is a bit odd in a movie that otherwise has nothing supernatural going on.
It may not add up to a vast amount, but Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie is a fun watch while it’s on the screen, and it’s well aware that sometimes gay people can be their own worst enemies.
Overall Verdict: Turning an anthology web series into a film shouldn’t work, but while fairly lightweight fun, Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie works better than you might expect.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac