By B. Root
Nick Corporon’s new indie film Retake follows a lonely middle-aged man who hires a sex worker to help him relive a road trip—and a relationship—from his past.
Jonathan (Tuc Watkins) travels to San Francisco in search of a young male companion. The sex worker he picks up (Devon Graye) tells Jonathan that he’s different from the older men he usually sees: “I feel like you require something more intricate.” When Jonathan tells him that he’s into role-play, the sex worker asks about the character that Jonathan wants him to play. Jonathan describes a lost and temperamental young guy named “Brandon.” Back in Jonathan’s hotel room, Jonathan asks him to put on a certain cologne, and “Brandon” assumes his role as they have sex.
The next morning, Jonathan brings Brandon some coffee and asks what his plans are for the next few days. Jonathan offers to double his nightly rate and pay him a bonus at the end if he agrees to accompany him on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Brandon cannot refuse that kind of offer and agrees to go with him.
As they begin their trip, Brandon quickly comes to realize that he is playing a major role in the recreation of Jonathan’s lovelorn past. As Brandon attempts to dig for clues about Jonathan’s relationship with the real-life Brandon, Jonathan insists that he must stick to the role he was hired to perform without asking questions.
As the sex worker slowly begins to piece together the identity of the person he is playing, he begins to feel a strange connection with Jonathan. Eager to leave his past behind, the sex worker sheds his own identity and truly becomes the character he’s been playing. But as the two get closer to their destination, their affection for each other grows and a genuine relationship begins to blossom.
“Retake presents a new take on relationships, reliving the past, and the fragility of love,” says director and writer Nick Corporon. “I wrote the movie after having just turned 30—and the idea of getting older was weighing on me a bit. I had some great life experiences, but I didn’t recognize any of them in the moment. I was always trying to get happy. All of this sadness, loneliness, and pining adds up to what I wanted to explore in the film: a realistic look at relationships past and present.”
Set against the backdrop of the American Southwest and Route 66, which contribute to the overall sense of bleakness throughout the film, Retake shows how memory can seduce us into fixating on the past at the expense of the present, and how being able to move on from the past sometimes takes a lot of courage—and the help of others.
Retake is now available on DVD and VOD.
B. Root is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.