The Fluffer

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The Fluffer

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On a porn-movie set, the fluffer's job is to keep the male performers aroused during breaks in the action, when a stubborn half-loaf can threaten to single-dickedly halt the production. Even by the standards of dreary and mechanical sex labor, it would seem to inspire the least amount of passion, but in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's The Fluffer, it's the desperate height of self-negation and unrequited desire. A low-rent, high-scuzz analog to 1997's wonderful Love And Death On Long Island, the film examines the same rapt obsession a gay man feels for a straight movie star, but it doesn't approach the earlier film's complexity or depth of emotion. Like Love And Death, The Fluffer begins with a marquee mix-up: Just as John Hurt intended to see Merchant-Ivory and stumbled into Hot Pants College II instead, straitlaced 22-year-old Michael Cunio rents a copy of Citizen Kane that's been switched for Citizen Cum, a gay porn video. Before he can eject the tape, Cunio catches an eye-opening glimpse of Scott Gurney, a perfectly sculpted beefcake whose porn alter ego, "Johnny Rebel," is a tattooed ex-con who dominates his sexual partners. An aspiring Hollywood filmmaker with little experience, Cunio takes a job as a cameraman at Gurney's contract company (named Men Of Janus, after "the Roman God of entrances and exits") to get closer to his idol. Cunio's camerawork fails to impress his superiors, but he becomes invaluable as a fluffer for Gurney, a reluctant former straight star who turned to gay porn for the extra cash to fuel his drug habit. The Fluffer might have worked had it focused more intently on their uneasy, codependent relationship and stayed inside this seedy offshoot on the Hollywood fringes. But Glatzer and Westmoreland add a superfluous third player to the mix in Gurney's girlfriend Roxanne Day, a tough-minded stripper determined to rescue them both from the sex industry and into a more stable life. The film makes the point early and often that Cunio and Day are both essentially fluffers for Gurney, a self-destructive narcissist who will never reward their infatuation with him. But whenever The Fluffer breaks away from the world of gay porn—one that Westmoreland, an award-winning director, knows well—it loses its novelty and indulges in melodramatic clichés. Once an unplanned pregnancy and a murder are thrown into the pot, the film's original spark of inspiration is all but forgotten. Perhaps it's just a consequence of Cunio's helpless star-worship, but when his fantasy stud loses his presence in the real world, The Fluffer comes crashing down alongside him.

Filed Under: DVD

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