Earlier in the night, before sitting down to watch Straight, I found myself explaining just what I loved so much about writing for Rogue Cinema. Aside from having a chance to work at my writing and try new things, this little project of ours is a great way to discover filmmakers and films that by no other way would I ever be able to see. Straight is one of the few European independent films that I have been sent during my tenure here at Rogue Cinema, and I am always excited whenever I get anything foreign. My experience with contemporary German cinema (Fritz Lang probably doesn’t represents modern Germany) is actually limited to low budget splatter films, which are hardly the best representative for any country. Straight offers a glimpse into their independent scene and proves to be a interesting look at the imortal love triangle motif. As cliche as that may sound, director Nicolas Flessa presents an engaging story that manages to do enough to keep the story interesting for new audiences. Through the exploration of sexuality in multiple forms, the movie packs enough of a intellectual whallop that it certainly proves worthy of our time.
Jana is a secretary of some sort and has a fixation on men. She works as a director at a escort service, sending girls out on jobs. She has her boyfriend David, but on the side she has been seeing and sleeping with Nazim. Nazim, who Jana met at a dance club, is a sexually confused youth who wants anal sex, snorts a lot of cocaine and has very homoerotic tendencies. In public he acts extremely threatened and angered by homosexuality, but it is simply a front for his confusion. Behind closed doors he is starting to come to terms with his own urges. When Nazim runs into David, Jana’s literal boyfriend, the begin their own relationship without any knowledge that each other is connected to Jana. Nazim and David hook up and begin their affair, while Jana and Nazim are also sneaking off together. Will these three continue their charade or will the truth finally erupt around them? Straight, by the strictest definition, is a feature length film but clocking in under the one hour mark it is certainly a short feature. Showcasing a very stripped down narrative, Straight is devoid of any kind of lag. Showcasing our story in the time necessary but not delving into subplots of anything deemed unnecessary. I am often a fan of this style of filmmaking as it promotes all killer and no filler, something a few independent artists could stand to learn. The concise editing certainly helps keep the movie free and moving at a very nice pace, but the visuals are what will first grab your attention. The lighting was what really grabbed me at first. There is a strange over saturated and overly bright look to the film, where bright reflections shine off of most characters skin. It gives the movie a slightly cheap feeling, but at the same time I enjoy this over-exposed look to it. There’s a certain style to it that comes off as if it were intended. The shine that characters some times take on gives them a look as if they are perspiring and it fits with the sexual nature of the movie and adds a very unique texture to the project.
If there are any gripes to be had with the project, it comes from the rather ambiguious ending. Although things are explained, character motivations come to shine and everything fits into its place… you are left wondering "was that it?". It seems as if there could have been more drama to soak up, drama that could have easily eaten up another thirty minutes. I would have been open to it as well! Still, I understand where the filmmakers were coming from and I think the exploration of sexuality was ultimately the ideal intention. Each character has their own unique story and sexual repression that holds them back and ultimately it is these things that will either set them free or tear them apart. Nazim’s fear of his own homosexuality, David’s hidden bisexuality and even Jana who hides her sexual job and insatiable cravings from her parents and home. Straight doesn’t spell anything out for you, but there are messages and concepts at work in the movie that are easy enough to pick up on. For fans who enjoy sexual exploration in film, the film is a very concise and intelligent look at the subject matter.