“LIKE IT IS”
First Run Features released a few years ago a wonderful little movie called “Like It is”. It s the story of Craig, a rough kid in Blackpool, England, who survives life by picking up cash as a bare-knuckle fighter. Together with that, he has a hard time accepting the fact that he is gay. One evening he meets Matt from London who works for a shady but very enterprising music producer. Matt lives with one of his clients who has her own problems and Craig goes to London to visit Matt and falls in love with him. This along with many other problems makes for a tenuous situation and is the meat of the movie.
Let me start by saying that the actors are wonderfully charming and there is an excellent balance of humor, drama, action and more quiet interludes. There are also wonderful studies of contrasts. Blackpool is bleak while London is full of color, a poor lifestyle is contrasted with the richer people, an environment of repression is set against the liberalism of a sophisticated environment. The changes affect Craig and his character is what holds the m0vie together. He wants and needs to change but his idealism is rooted in the mentality of the north of England with its innocence and simplicity. Craig (Steve Bell) gives an outstanding performance as the fighter who has trouble accepting himself. It is not often that a young actor can send out such a positive performance in his first film. Physically, he is exceptionally good looking but it is his acting that shows him off here. He carries himself with a masculine swagger while exhibiting great tenderness. As he struggles with his own homosexuality, he will be respected by the gays that see him and the straight audiences will marvel at his talents.
Roger Daltrey of “The Who” plays his part of Matt exceptionally well and with candor. The rest of the cast is just as good and this simple and enjoyable film shows the evolution of sex and love in a relationship of two men in London. It is the constant contrasts that are integral to the plot and they are what make the movie really work. Craig demystifies many gay stereotypes and that in itself makes this worthwhile viewing.
This is not a perfect movie by any means but what it is, is original. The fight scenes are e classic but not overly choreographed and thereby realistic. I would not say that the movie reaches the level of some of the fine things I have seen on the BBC but I do think it is not far behind.
The love story angle is used merely to illustrate the coming out theme of the film. As Roger Daltrey as the older gay male watches the younger man make mistakes he is taken back to his youth and sees what he missed and at what he succeeded.
There are male on male sex scenes as well and they are in no way lurid and exploitational. Rather they are representations of what two men feel for each other and add a great deal to the film. This is a movie to not only be seen but to be adored. To some it may hit very close to home and to others it will be just a pretty movie. Either of those are good reasons to watch it.