- Director: Travis Mathews
- Writer: Travis Mathews
- Producer: Jonathan Duffy; João Federici
With this, Travis Mathews goes [slightly] off-piste from his usual no-it's-not-porn-it's-art kind of film...instead, here, Mr Mathews treats us to a dish that is [often said to be] best served cold...a little warmth in this film would have made all the difference.
Revenge for historic abuse is a hot topic...the civil and criminal courts are a-ringing around the world with allegations and accusations...yes, judgments are delivered and justice is seen to be done...but, in the background, out-of-court settlements are being liberally dished-out [by an ex-pope, by a superstar] to avoid sex-offender-registration and/or jail-time!
And then...there, further in the background, in the thick of the gloom...some of the abused are taking matters into their own hands...no amount of money, no lengthy prison terms can ever appease, atone nor annihilate the damage done!
Discreet is the story of one such man. Here, the abused becomes the abuser...of the abuser. Sounds complex and compelling! Alas, it's neither. In telling this story, Mr Mathews has erred towards the experimental...there goes a great big chunk of the [potential] audience...indeed, moody it is...and, monotonous too! Even the sex scenes are limp...
And, the irony is...Discreet would have benefited from a hefty dose of no-it's-not-porn-it's-art porn! Anything to break up the turgid, pseudo-psychological tedium. Soundscapes and composition do not - alone and in concert - make a great film [although they do help]. At the core of a great film is the story-telling, Mr Mathews has shown great proficiency in technical filmmaking...but, he forgot one thing...to tell the story...engagingly!
Bacon sizzling in fat, a young woman thanking the subscribers of her YouTube channel, a corpse neatly wrapped up in black garbage bags and floating down a river – as clear as the first few images of Travis Mathews’ mystery thriller may be, the connections only become clearer gradually, as if they were emerging from the subconscious. This elliptically edited story, which revolves around a man who can no longer be described as young, is accompanied by an eerie soundscape.
Filmmaker Alex lives in a van. He sets up his camera in rural areas in the US and in the no-man’s land near highways. During a visit to his alcoholic mother one day she shares with him a well-kept secret. There is also a small boy, with whom Alex develops an unexpectedly close relationship. Director Mathews chronicles a modern day gay existence in the West – from anonymous sex to heterosexual porn in a sex bar cabin, or as a service in a motel room. A small house and a life on the margins of society. Meanwhile, on the radio, we are treated to a steady stream of rightwing slogans against everything that is not white and heterosexual, here in Texas.