BEDROOMS AND HALLWAYS

R
Reviews

Bedrooms and Hallways, a brash, in-your-face comedy from Go Fish director Rose Troche, is fun in a way a party is when the eager-to-please host fears the merriment may fizzle. The film revolves around unlucky-in-love gay London furniture-maker Leo (Kevin McKidd), who is hitting 30 and running scared. Seeking help in understanding his maleness, Leo boldly joins a progressive, heterosexual men's group in an effort to, uh, straighten out his love life.

His two roommates are less embattled on the romance front. Leo's colorful roomy Darren (Tom Hollander), reminiscent of La Cage aux Folles' campy houseboy, carries on an S&M affair with a real-estate broker (Hugo Weaving) who, appropriately courting danger, arranges their trysts in his clients' homes. And roommate Angie is the kind of assured, unconfused female heterosexual who bonds with gay men.

Because Bedrooms and Hallways is determined to please, Leo's men's-group sessions are led by the guru-like oddity Keith (Simon Callow) and held in unusual places like an exotic loft, sauna, and the woods where the men go camping in the heterosexual sense. Leo's confession to the group of his gayness spurs another member to recognize his orientation, or at least boldly reach for gay reading matter. But it's Leo's overtures to group member Brendan (James Purefoy), a handsome Irishman conveniently breaking up with girlfriend Sally (Jennifer Ehle), that entrap Leo in romantic complications that ultimately turn ambiguous.

Except for a frustrating do-they-or-don't-they ending and a comfortable sexual openness, Bedrooms and Hallways is unabashedly old-fashioned. Its comedic approach is sledgehammer-subtle, with music slathered on to further force-feed the levity. And the Noah's Ark-like ending, with the characters pairing off, harkens back to Shakespeare or Moliere.

While the film's ambiguous ending suggests it isn't just another feel-good gay comedy, it does suggest that the film wants to have it both ways by maybe having its characters go both ways. Filmgoers getting the mixed signals may go elsewhere.

--Doris Toumarkine