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Finding Me (2009)



Synopsis :

First the good news: Finding Me is not another gay movie about upper middle class white guys in West Hollywood. On the contrary, it's a gay movie about lower middle class African-American guys in Jersey City. That fact alone earns it a few novelty points. The bad news, sad to say, is that this no-budget indie is hobbled by substandard production values, a few lackluster performances, and a protagonist who takes far too long to find out far too little about himself.

Twenty-one-year-old Faybien (RayMartell Moore) has little education, a dead end mall job, and a widowed father (Ron De Suze) who takes every opportunity to chip away at his self-esteem. The kid is out to his tight circle of friends, but homophobic Dad has done a number on him, and as the cliché says, you can't love anyone else until you love yourself. At a bus stop, Faybien crushes on Lonnie (Derrick L. Briggs), a slightly older and more self-aware guy, and after much excruciating back and forth, they hook up and get it on, much to the approval of Faybien's friends Greg (Eugene Turner) and Amera (J'Nara Corbin). Lonnie is a dreamboat: good looks, nice apartment, respectable job... what more could Faybien want?

Nothing really, but that doesn't stop him from taking every opportunity to push Lonnie away as he wrestles with his low self-esteem and fear of taking a stand in society as a proud gay man. At one point, Lonnie brings the skittish Faybien to a Jersey City hilltop and forces him to shout "Accept me!!!" at the top of his lungs. Of course, as luck (or screenplay coincidences) would have it, Faybien's father witnesses this moment of gay pride, and there will be hell to pay.

Interestingly, Finding Me doesn't really touch on the "down low" phenomenon in the African-American community. The gay men here are all out and about quite happy with themselves, serving as contrasts to the uptight Faybien who, as Amera says, tends to "ball up" into himself.

As Faybien, RayMartell Moore (who is not gay) gives the movie's strongest performance, which is lucky because he's in almost every scene. Turner and Corbin are fun and lively sidekicks, but Briggs' sometimes wooden delivery fails to transmit the charisma that is supposed to make Lonnie so irresistible. He and his cast mates are further hindered by some really rough audio. Wind whistles through the microphones in exterior shots, and volume levels rise and fall constantly. When background music kicks in -- as in the weirdly underpopulated gay bars that the friends frequent -- you have to strain to hear anything.

A pat on the back to writer/director Roger S. Omeus Jr. for trying to tell a story of the gay experience from a new and unusual perspective. Next time, someone give him a pat on the back plus a few hundred thousand dollars so he can do it right.

Starring :

Derrick L. Briggs ... Lonnie Wilson
J'Nara Corbin ... Amera Jones

Director :

Roger S. Omeus Jr.


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