URBANIA directed and produced by Jon Shear, written by Shear and Daniel Reitz, with Dan Futterman, Matt Keeslar, Josh Hamilton and Alan Cumming. 104 minutes. A Blackwatch Releasing release. Opens Friday (November 10). Rating: NNN
It's unsual for two gay-themed films to open in the same week, but alongside The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me comes Urbania, which has been playing the film festival circuit and is finally getting a release.Charlie (Dan Futterman) is a sad man with a secret. He roams New York's Greenwich Village looking for a guy with a tattoo. Along the way, he meets up with people who tell him stories, tall tales of the city, like the one about the poodle being put into a microwave to dry off, or the baby left on the car roof.
Why Charlie is looking for the trashy tattoo guy isn't clear, but we do know he had a lover (Matt Keeslar) who's no longer in the picture.
Jon Shear has chosen a complex story with which to make his directing debut. He started his career as an actor (Independence Day, Heathers) but has roots as a theatre director.
Here, there are too many layers for Shear to deal with effectively. Forced to navigate a suspense drama and gay love story, he gets lost, unable to retain the tension behind the mystery of why Charlie is searching for the greasy guy, and allowing the scenes between Charlie and his lover to slip into sentimentality.
When you throw in the urban myths, which come across as awkward asides, you have an ambitious film that falls short of its goal.