Gayby (Jonathan Lisecki | USA | 89 min.)
Jonathan Lisecki's Gayby is based on a short film of the same name and concerns exactly what the title implies: Young, gay New Yorker Matt (Matthew Wilkas) and old college buddy Jenn (Jenn Harris) decide to have a child together the old-fashioned way -- by having sex. This curious endeavor formed the centerpiece of the acclaimed short film; for Lisecki's feature-length treatment, the arrangement is the starting point for a hilarious exploration of urban archetypes, the neuroses of young people grappling with the pressures of family life, and the impact of sexuality on other facets of daily life. Less satire than a playful encapsulation of real life, Gayby places as much emphasis on the experience of its straight character, Jenn, as it does on Matt. When Jenn puts her career and friendship in jeopardy by indulging in a sordid one night stand, she's forced to contemplate what drove her to desiring motherhood in the first place. Matt faces a similar conundrum: Unsure of his own relationship needs, he begins to question his commitment with Jenn even though it might be too late to back out.
The cast is rounded out by various bit players, including Lisecki himself as a flamboyant source of comic relief, but the movie's real star is its screenplay. Relying on constant one-liners, sparkling wit and awkward refrains, Gayby never slows down to get preachy even as its characters confront real issues. While on the surface Gayby has the buoyancy of a metropolitan sitcom, its status as a charming crowd-pleaser allows its deeper themes about progressive family life to gradually settle in. By the end, Gayby has earned the right to be utterly sweet, heartfelt and wildly entertaining at the same time. Lisecki, making his feature-length directorial debut, announces himself as a strong new voice in American cinema with a resolutely modern eye.
- Eric Kohn