FOURPLAY: TAMPA

Holy Glory

FourplayTampathumb

(Fourplay: Tampa world premiered at 2011 Director’s Fortnight and has its North American premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Shorts Program V. Go here for Sundance screening information. And be sure to visit Fourplay‘s official website to learn more.)

The second installment in Kyle Henry’s anthology feature film (San Francisco is in the bag, Austin and Skokie are still to come) isn’t just the most out of control entry so far; it’s hard to think of another film period—feature, short, straight up porno—that delights in being so unabashedly sacreligious and profane. And though Fourplay: Tampa will without question shock, disturb, and disgust the more conservative viewers in the audience—truth be told, even the most open-minded of folks will likely be thrown for a loop—there remains something undeniably gleeful and sweet about the whole crazy circus that you might be surprised at how widely you’re smiling when the credits begin to roll.

This is another one of those extreme cases where the less known about the plot the better. But to speak in broad terms, let’s just say that Henry’s 16-minute film concerns a Jesus loving man, Luis (Jose Villarreal)—notice the figurine dangling from his rear-view mirror in the film’s opening credits—who enters a Tampa bathroom to relieve himself and instead finds relief of a whole different order.

When trying to pinpoint how Henry manages to balance the profane with the sweet so effortlessly, one needs look no further than Villarreal, who delivers a perhaps deceptively excellent performance. There is a cartoonish warmth about him that is impossible not to adore, and while his expressions are often laugh-out-loud funny, they never tumble over-the-top. Henry instead preserves the over-the-top for his indescribably brash third act, which continues to outdo itself even when you’re convinced it’s gone as far as it can go. Seriously, don’t watch this movie while sitting beside someone who you know to be conservative, religious, and homophobic. Er… come to think of it, that might actually be the best way to watch it!

Technically, Henry and his cinematographer PJ Raval capture the feel of Tampa in all its gaudy Floridian glory. The soundtrack reflects the milieu as well, as the film transitions into a jaw-droppingly operatic state of (dis)grace. Most noteworthy, perhaps, is David Fabelo’s editing, the crispness of which adds another injection of humor into the proceedings. All told, the best way I can describe this film is as the circle-jerk offspring of the Marx Brothers and Kenneth Anger.

The direct implication in the film’s final climax (that word ‘final’ is particularly necessary here) makes it hard not to think that Henry made Fourplay: Tampa with the express intention of riling up the stiffest minds in the crowd. Or perhaps it was made for those like-minded types who can relish in the shock-and-awe reactions from their hilariously affronted neighbors. One thing’s for certain: Fourplay: Tampa will widen every viewer’s eyes.

— Michael Tully

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