Toying with issues of sexuality, trauma and race, John G. Young’s romantic drama “bwoy” is another cautionary tale about meeting strangers online. Stuck in a bleak New York winter after the death of his son, a grieving man, Brad (Anthony Rapp), seeks solace by cruising a gay dating site. He falls into the virtual arms of Yenny (Jimmy Brooks), a charismatic young Jamaican, but their flirty and dirty texts and video calls soon morph into something devastating.
Brad is not yet out to his wife (De’Adre Aziza). As the affair progresses, he struggles to control his temper around customers at work and looks pained every time his new love interest calls him “Daddy.” The film sets Brad up for a messy midlife crisis, and Mr. Young’s hand-held camerawork brings little stability to the frame.
Mr. Young, who also wrote the script, teases out the story in bits of coy hints and half-truths about a tragic accident, leaving too many questions unanswered. More than once, Brad mentions to others that he’s a doctor but not why he’s no longer practicing. The movie stumbles into the murky waters of colonization and racial politics when Brad, who is white, starts doing research on Jamaica, bringing up the island’s history of slavery in between gorgeous pictures of beaches and photos of hunky black men.
Although Mr. Rapp personifies Brad’s repression, Mr. Brooks looks effervescent and playful during their video chats. He hides his intentions with excitable energy and a bright smile, which somehow feel less manipulative than the movie.
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