LGBT Movies: Like It Is (1998)

A music promoter (Ian Rose) picks up a baby-faced boxer (Steve Bell) outside a club in Blackpool. The hook up goes badly but blossoms into romance. The promoter’s career is taking off. His jealous employers (Dani Behr and The Who‘s Roger Daltrey) don’t want him distracted by a needy boyfriend. Like It Is blends a romcom with a sports drama and a satire of the music industry. The sleazy villains grow tedious and the heroes seem foolish for trusting them. But real-life boxer Steve Bell is something special. His charismatic performance carries the film.

Learn more in my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: Romance

CRAIG (a boxer): I made it to the gay club but I’m scared to go inside.  
MATT (a music promoter): Then let’s go to your place.
CRAIG: I want to try gay sex… NEVER MIND. IT HURTS!
MATT: That’s because screenwriters don’t understand preparation.
(Craig kicks Matt out.)
(Craig wins a bare-knuckle boxing match.)
CRAIG: I’m angry boxing to process my gay torment.
CRAIG: I’m sorry about last time.
MATT: No worries. Let me introduce you to London’s gay scene.  
(They tour the Gayborhoods. Craig steals a car and drives Matt to a park.)
CRAIG: Let’s try sex again.
MATT: You want to lose your virginity in a public park? Hot.
MATT: Hanging out with you is my favorite part of this movie. But it’s time for some conflict.
CRAIG: Will our class differences challenge our relationship?
MATT: Not exactly. We’re introducing two melodramatic villains.

Act Two: Villains

(Craig loses his bar job for beating up a homophobe. Matt misses a work meeting to help him.)  
MATT: I’m falling in love. And I’m not sure I even believe in love. I’m telling, not showing, because my character arc is kinda vague.
MATT’s BOSS (Roger Daltrey): Matt’s rough trade is distracting him.
DIVA SINGER (Danni Behr): Let’s break them up! Then Matt will be all mine! Mwa ha ha!
CRAIG: Why don’t you just tie me to some train tracks and call it done.
MATT’s BOSS: Craig darling, I want to give you a job driving my boy band. Meet my lead singer.
BOY BAND SINGER: You’re cute.
(Diva Singer blocks Craig’s calls to Matt. Craig and Boy Band Singer have a drunken hook up.)
MATT: You bastard.
(Matt makes out with Boy Band Singer.)  
CRAIG: You bastard. You music people treat folks just as badly as the boxing world does.
MATT: I disagree with your heavy handed thesis statement!
(Craig goes back home to Blackpool.)

Act Three: Reconciliation

MATT’s BOSS: You can manage my night club. Your career will soar!  
MATT: I’m going to Blackpool to find Craig. I’m in love.
MATT’s BOSS: Nonsense. It’s only lust. Leave and you’re fired! (Matt leaves.)  
CRAIG’s BROTHER: You and Craig are together? Rude of you to out him but I’ll accept him as he is. He’s boxing tonight.
(Craig loses a bare-knuckle boxing match.)
CRAIG: It’s all right. I bet against myself and won a lot of money.
MATT: Craig, am I too late? Can we try again?
CRAIG: “I ‘spose we can give it another go.”


Eye of the Tiger

“I think for Craig to come down to London is a heroic act.”

Director Paul Oremland

It’s hard to explain why I enjoyed this film so much. The plot is trite. Ian Rose reads as too intelligent to let the villains manipulate him. Daltrey and Behr enjoy themselves but their roles are one dimensional. Still, there’s a sweetness to Steve Bell’s performance that beguiled me. I wish he’d made more films instead of going into soap operas.

Critics dismissed the film as slight and it made little impression in the U.S. But I like the matter-of-fact aspect of Craig’s coming out and the honesty of those first thirty minutes when the relationship is finding its way. It earns a spot among the “New Queer Cinema” of the 1990’s.

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