ON THE DOWNLOW (Abigail Child, U.S.). 54 minutes. Sunday (May 18), 12:30 pm, ROM. Rating: NNN
Director Abigail Child brings sensitivity and impartiality to this brief doc about bisexual African-American men, a subject that’s too frequently played for shock value in Jerry Springer-style shows.
The half-dozen guys range in age from late teens to mid-30s, and their stories are diverse and uncensored. One “learned it” in jail. Another only has sex with drag queens. A couple of them come out on camera to loved ones.
The men are all candid and complex. It’s too bad the film doesn’t have more of a dramatic arc. And strange that we don’t get the perspective of older men to put the issue in more historic context. What does come through, however, is the climate of poverty and limited options many of these men – and their lovers – inhabit.