LGBT Media: More Sibling Rivalry

“I am gay. To add to that my older brother’s gay so my dad’s REAL PROUD.” ~ Matteo Lane

Last week I looked at stories about straight and GBTQ+ siblings working out their differences. This week lets look at variations on the theme, including films about two LGBQ+ siblings. It was hard to find stories that didn’t involve death, incest or both so… here is your spoiler and trigger warning.

My Gay Brother

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No, you run the family pasta factory! ~ Loose Cannons

Both siblings are LGBQ but their personalities clash. Sometimes one is out while the other is closeted. Sometimes one is wild while the other is uptight.

Color Me Olsen (2007). Short Film. Twin bros take a job imitating the Olsen Twins. The broad color palette suggests hilarity but the stilted acting holds it back. Like an overlong SNL skit. D

Donor (2002). Short film. Lesbian wants a baby and invites her partners’ gay brother to be the sperm donor.  He does not approve. A passive aggressive family dinner ensues. The film making is amateurish but the script has some clever twists. C-

Issues 101 (2002). Chris insists his frat “hazing rituals” don’t make him gay. But he finds himself jealous when his favorite pledge starts dating his openly gay sibling. Zero budget sex farce features 10 minutes of eye candy. The tradeoff is 80 minutes of corny dialogue, amateur acting and grating music. The films’ claim to fame is a cameo from a pre-American Idol Kelly Clarkson as a loud woman at a party. F

Issues 101 Kelly Clarkson
No need to shout Kelly. There’s nobody at this party. ~ Issues 101

Loose Cannons (2010) (aka Mine Vaganti). Tomasso’s older brother comes out and is disowned by their arrogant father. The closeted bisexual Tomasso is bullied into running the family business in his stead. He plays a passive “straight man” to his zany friends and relatives while the script spins its wheels. The actors have charm but the stagnant screenplay gives them nothing to do. You can’t fire a cannon if you won’t strike a match. C

Tiger Orange (2014). Serious closeted brother took care of their mean, dying father. Now his flaky out brother and his high school crush both want to reconnect. He needs to swallow his pride and let them. In the meantime, he whines and whines. The repetitive brotherly arguments make an already short film feel in need of an editor. More interesting are the brothers strained interactions with the small-town locals. They’re happy to tolerate the “discrete” brother but show outright hostility to the “aggressive” one. C-

The Bad Gay Movie Podcast covered Tiger Orange in depth here.

Two Jasperjohns (2011-2013). Web series. Bitter Jude and sunny Joseph are two of the nine gay Jasperjohn Brothers. They go on a surreal adventures involving dancing bears, runaway pets and fad religions. The brothers’ dynamic is solid enough to carry the first two seasons, but they ran out of jokes in the dull third season. C-

Undressed (1999-2002). In a 2002 episode of MTV’s soap a straight twin is “forced” to impersonate his gay twin on a date. He ends up exploring his bi-curious side. Christopher and Cody Goddard are cute but overplay the sitcom dialogue. (“So what do we talk about. Gay stuff?” “Try guy stuff.”) Silly, but more fun than the episode I reviewed last week. C 

Here’s one I haven’t seen yet: To Forget Venice (1979) (aka Dimenticare Venezia). Bisexual sister seduces her brothers’ boyfriend. Daring for 1979. Not currently available for streaming.

My Dying Brother

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Tears will be shed. ~ Close to Leo

One brother is dying. It’s usually the gay one. His sibling will be left behind to cope.

1985 (2018). Cory Michael Smith gives an understated performance as a man with AIDS visiting his conservative family in Texas for the last time. The film denies us big confrontations, focusing instead on the parents stifling small talk. We become as frustrated with them as the lead does. His most interesting relationship is with his feminine younger brother who desperately needs a mentor. I wish they could have spent more time together, but then so did they. B

Close to Leo (2002) (aka Tout contre Léo). 12 year old Marcel’s eldest brother, Leo, has contracted AIDS. Marcel resents his family’s attempts to keep the truth from him and follows Leo to Paris. There Leo speaks to him as an adult and tells him about his life. The cast is strong and the writing nuanced, but the pace is slow and the finale unbearably gloomy. Contains triggery violence and some awkward brotherly cuddling. C+

Drowning (2009). Mik’s a mess. His brother has died and he’s pining for his best friend Dan. When he meets Dan’s new girlfriend he has a jealous meltdown. Mik may not be sympathetic but he’s never dull. It’s like watching a car crash. C

In Half (2012). Closeted conservative twin spends a day with his late brother’s ex-boyfriend. Actors are too old for the overwrought teen-speak in the script. More silly than sweet. C-

It’s Only the End of the World (2016) (aka Juste la fin du monde). Director Xavier Dolan is drawn to cruel characters and this is no exception. Gay writer has come home to tell his estranged family that he is dying. His resentful siblings are too busy fighting to listen. If he’d speak up the film would have some conflict but he merely stares at them with sad eyes. His silence grows as obnoxious as their shouting. Marion Cotillard provides rare moments of warmth as the timid sister in law. C

My Brother (2015) (aka Mi Hermano). Short Film. Closeted artist avoids his family. When his younger brother commits suicide he learns that they had something in common. Ends with a lovely animated sequence that re-tells the story from a different angle. C

Newcastle (2008). Australian surfing drama. Angry straight brothers and their gentle gay brother attend a beach party full of drunken brawling, naked frolicking and dangerous waves. Writer/director Dan Castle’s less interested in plot than in ogling the extreme masculinity on display. The blurry surfing competitions get confusing and the women’s roles are thankless, but the men are gorgeous and the energy is high. Tragedy eventually strikes, *** spoiler*** but not to whom you’d expect. The gay brother and his dreamy love interest survive. C+

Teenage Kicks (2016). Writer/ director Craig Boreham expanded his short, Drowning, and lost something in the process. Poor Mik now suffers everything from parental abuse to sexual assault after his brothers’ death. His torments would be horrifying if the camera wasn’t busy drooling over his lanky body. The film can’t decide if it’s a somber coming of age tale or a trashy exploitation flick. Other critics liked this more than I did. C-

White Frog (2012). Booboo Stewart plays a teen with Asperger’s (but, like, the cuddly adorable kind). When his secretive brother (Harry Shum Jr.) dies in a hit and run he seeks out Shum’s hot friends (Tyler Posey and Gregg Sulkin). He bonds with them till he finds a photo of Sulkin chastely kissing Shum on the cheek. They were boyfriends! (but, like, the masc non-threatening kind). Tears and accusations give way to hugs and an inspirational speech (“You know what? Everyone is different.”) Trite. C-

More Dying Brothers: How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) (2015); Life Kills Me(2002. aka Vivre me tue); My Brother’s Keeper (1995); My Brother… Nikhil (2005); Son Frere (2003).

Forbidden Love

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It’s complicated. ~ From Beginning to End

Search for gay brothers on imdb and you’ll find a particularly thriving subgenre: brothers who sleep together. Usually one wants to stop, one wants to continue, and a decision is reached. The subject is triggery so I’ll forgo full reviews. Philosophical, psychological and legal discussions are left out of it. Most are about gloomy angst (Brotherly, Brothers, Godless, In the Dark, Starcrossed) or sexy camp (Harry and Max, Twins). The happiest one is 2009’s From Beginning to End (aka Do Começo ao Fim). The relationship is treated as a matter-of-fact romance between consenting adults. For some audiences, that lack of judgement may make it more triggering than the rest.


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The Zakar Twins react to the Coyle Twins. An ouroboros.

Our family got hit by the gay stick twice. ~ Lucas Cruikshank

Are you a pair of cute gay brothers? Do you live in a major metropolitan area? Start a vlog! They cover topics like “coming out,” “reading each other’s’ Grindr messages” and “things twins get asked.” I’ve yet to find a niche account like “Gay brothers review movies” or “Gay twins study Macedonian architecture.”

Which sibling films did I miss? Have you seen any of the films in this post? For more reviews of LGBTQ+ media click here.