BluRay/DVD Reviews

ALEKSANDR’S PRICE

By • Sep 12th, 2013 •

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Did you see the season finale of HBO’s True Blood? Alexander Skarsgård went full frontal. His bad boy vampire, Eric Northman, was shown fully naked on a chaise lounge chair reading a book in snowy Sweden. Suddenly, he leaps up and runs towards the camera, showing off a substantial portion of his man bits. (The getting-up freeze frame is on Goggle images.)

I saw more of Skarsgård than anyone in Pau Masó’s sexually-charged ALEKSANDR’S PRICE. It might be easily classified as a “gay” film but it is a frank, blunt, and realistic look at the dark side of life in New York City – for many young men and women.

As a New Yorker (living in Las Vegas) I know that Masó’s titled character could easily have been played by a female without changing the context of the plot. Aleksandr (Masó) is a young Russian immigrant all alone after the suicide death of his mother. He is telling what has happened to him to a therapist, Dr. Mary (Anatoli Grek). Being without legitimate work papers, Aleksandr asks his friend Emma (Samantha Glovin) for help. She puts him in touch with a guy who offers him a job dancing at a gay club. The other guys laugh at Aleksandr when he says he does not know how to dance.

As if dancing had anything to do with the gig.

Aleksandr is going through an emotional crisis and is so conflicted he isn’t even sure he is gay. His sexual experiences have been limited. Aleksandr has never ventured into the sexual underbelly of the city’s gay culture. He is clearly “bait”. He does not like dancing and stripping but meets a wealthy man, Keith (Josh Berresford, pictured) at the club. Longing for friends, he goes with Keith to a hotel. They engage in a sex act new to Aleksandr. In the morning Keith gives Aleksandr an envelope filled with money. Aleksandr is shocked. He’s not a prostitute. He wants a relationship. Keith lays it out for him: He’s straight, married, but occasionally likes to have sex with men. He’s a hobbyist.

Without any other means of making money, Aleksandr begins to play the role gay men want. He is an older man’s gay fantasy: He’s very good-looking, young, thin and has an accent. But the role he must play is not him. When Keith pushes Aleksandr to meet a colleague for a drink, Aleksandr wants to talk and get to know the man. The man looks at Aleksandr like he’s crazy. The man wants sex, not a friend.

Aleksandr is desperate to connect with someone and when an older man, Tom (Keith Dougherty), asks him to join him and a group of his buddies, Aleksandr is thrilled. Drinking heavily, the guys take Aleksandr to an apartment and brutally gang-rape him.

Aleksandr has no other choice but to “man up” and play the part of a male escort. And then there is the shocking ending that I did not see coming.

As a film critic, I feel it is important to see all kinds of films and even though ALEKSANDR’S PRICEis a gay-themed movie, its depiction of the cruel and shallow world of New York City and its commerce in young men and women of all sexual orientations is spot on. Masó is talented and clearly ambitious. Masó has written a tough part for himself: Its highly emotional and there are crying scenes (as well as several masturbation scenes). While the masturbation and random oral sex with strangers on the street were well done, I don’t like men crying in films. And Aleksandr was a little too weepy. He was always longing for a friend.

ALEKSANDR’S PRICE can be viewed as a gay companion to Steve McQueen’s SHAME, which also dealt with sexual promiscuity in New York City. Masó is credited with overseeing the entire production. According to IMDB.com, Pau Masó was also the casting director and chose the actors meticulously via online submissions. So you can get an acting job without having an agent or a manager! But I strongly doubt Berresford was found via online. He is not only charismatic, but a great find and a standout. He definitely should be in mainstream films.

Following its VOD debut on September 1st, ALEKSANDR’S PRICE will be available nationwide on DVD September 24th.

The DVD release (SRP $24.99) includes an interview with Pau Maso and deleted footage.

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