Tim Kirkman’s Lazy Eye (B) advances one of my favorite genres of film: the talky, plaintiff romance. This two-decades later Before Sunrise effect seems to be casting its spell into every corridor, from the early days of Barack and Michelle (the recommended Southside with You) to gay-themed stories of young love (Theo & Hugo). In Kirkman’s life-affirming entry in this genre, the story centers on two men whose romantic relationship ended 15 years ago but who are reunited to possibly rekindle their love affair anew. Lucas Near-Verbrugghe is the central figure, a bespectacled graphic artist in L.A. who has let many of his passions sputter; and Aaron Costa Ganis plays the dashing dreamer (the one who got away) re-entering the picture. Through both a modern story and flashbacks from 15 years before, rendered flawlessly, the audience follows the trajectory of a couple with great potential. There’s a very natural flow to the relationship and clear tension about what it could become. Although clearly committed to the role, Near-Verbugghe simply isn’t as strong a screen presence as Ganis, causing at times a lopsided narrative. In fact, Ganis is so charming in the role, most co-stars wouldn’t stand a chance. The characters aren’t quite as indelible as hoped, but Kirkman does a wonderful job creating a contemplative “what if” through line of theming. Additionally, the film transports viewers to an ethereal time and place in the West Coast desert, summoning a spiritual and cerebral atmosphere for asking the big questions about the choices we make.
Note: This film was screened at the Out on Film festival in Atlanta and is playing at additional festivals around the U.S. It premiered in NYC and Los Angeles mid-November and is now available for streaming and on-demand.