Remember that group of quirky friends you kind of hated, but still wished you were a part of in school? The pretentious ones that would have recited Gilbert & Sullivan or acted out entire make-believe double meaning monologs in lieu of real life conversations. Take that, and you have the greater than rag tag group of friends that carry the movie Those People. Fortunately for them, Charlie (Jonathan Gordon) , Sebastian (Jason Ralph), Ursula (Britt Lower) and Wyatt (Chris Conroy) lie precisely on the fun side of pretentious to make the movie enjoyable.
Those People is essentially an unrequited love story between two upper-class white guys Charlie and Sebastian. Sebastian is considered one of the most hated men in New York City due to his affiliation with his father’s illegal money maneuvering.
The story is framed around Charlie and his quest for finding himself. In the beginning, we are shown Charlie presenting his painting to a board. They argue that it is good, but that they wanted a self-portrait. In a few shots we learn that this painting is actually of Sebastian, not Charlie. Watching these two sit and recite the lyrics to “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” you would think that they are equally in love.
However, a few scenes later, Sebastian tells (doesn’t ask) Charlie to move in with him. I was thinking “of course someone who looks at someone else as if he hung the moon in the sky is going to say yes to that,” but Charlie hesitates. While a quiet comment is made by their friend Ursula that “this is not healthy”, we’re given a glimpse at what Charlie and Sebastian’s, while co-dependent, messed up relationship is really like. That hooked me. Anything revolving around unrequited love and best friends automatically has my attention.
While on his path to self-discovery, Charlie falls in love with Tim (Haaz Sleiman). Tim is an older man and a pianist and this relationship causes a bit of a riff between Charlie and Sebastian. The relationship between Charlie and Tim was playful, honest and fun. It was everything that Sebastian and Charlie’s relationship could never be, yet as an audience member, you knew Charlie still had feelings for Sebastian, which were probably heightened by Sebastian’s newfound jealousy. I thought this arch was beautifully written and acted. It was astutely shown that you can be in love with more than one person and I think that’s a message that is lost in movies today.
In the end, Charlie is finally able to paint a true self-portrait. The events of this film didn’t end up as heartbreaking as I expected and Sebastian becomes a character I liked and sympathized with. Although I don’t think it broke any barriers, Those People is a solid movie that was enjoyable to watch. Jonathan Gordan’s performance was loveable whereas Jason Ralph’s hard edge/soft interior gave the story just enough depth.