When one thinks of a burlesque porn studio, the images that come to mind probably include big personalities, colorful scenery, and a vibrant world. Sure there will be drama, but what profession doesn’t have its fair share of that?
Writer/Director Daniel Armando pulls back the curtain on just such a place in his latest film, Daddy’s Boy. If you’re looking for drama, this won’t disappoint. If you’re after the color or the big personalities, however, let’s just say this isn’t exactly Cabaret.
Four young men converge in New York City in the same porn studio. There’s Manuel (Jonathan Iglesias), the shy porn actor who has come to the city with adult film star Max (Al Miro). Jorge (James Koroni) spends much of the film dancing as a way to deal with an abusive relationship, and finally, there’s Fabian (Joe Lopez) who is a closeted homosexual who discovers he’s going to be a father for the first time.
While all of these characters have elements that make them interesting characters, that potential is never fully realized onscreen as scenes move at a snail’s pace, often with very little cutting between actors to capture expressions. The dance sequences with Jorge, while beautiful and set to interesting music, hardly drive the story and feel confusing rather than emotional. Near the end of the film we see one side of a phone call, that’s in another language, and no subtitles are provided. While the foundation of the scene is present and we have a vague idea of what is being said (the phone call is mentioned earlier), this portion goes on far longer than necessary and quickly loses momentum.
Armando’s decision to shoot the film in black and white is interesting at times and makes for some nice visuals, especially in the dance sequences, but at other times, the photography feels like it’s trying too hard to be artistic. Several shots, particularly one of a bridge, are used multiple times, suggesting that this was a favorite of the filmmakers. While it’s a beautiful image, seeing it repeated feels forced and over-utilized.
It seems as though the intention of Daddy’s Boy was to show the darker side of this typically over-the-top world, and with the right execution, it could have been a very interesting story to explore. The pace of this film, unfortunately, garners rather undesirable results.
Daddy’s Boy is screening next at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 21st.