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  Duffer We'll Call Him Nate If It's A BoyBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Joseph Despins, William Dumaresq
Stars: Kit Gleave, Erna May, William Dumaresq, Lisa Doran, Marcelle McHardy
Genre: Weirdo
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Duffer (Kit Gleave) is an aimless young man who enjoys the company of two lovers, but likes to be on his own sometimes, spending time down by the riverside under the bridge, reading, watching the world go by, that sort of thing. The female lover he has is a prostitute called Your Gracie (Erna May), who he met in a launderette and continues to meet there, whereupon they will usually go back to her bedsit for sex and chatting. But the male lover is Louis-Jack (William Demaresq as James Roberts), and he is far less salubrious in his attentions to his young friend...

A curio by any reasonable judgement, Duffer was one of two films made by a duo of Canadians in London, Demaresq and Joseph Despins, who scraped together enough cash for this and the similarly low budget musical Moon Over the Alley. This was not a musical, but did boast some cult appeal in its soundtrack, which apart from a spot of piano noodling had electronic atmospheres created by Delia Derbyshire, something that added both to its interest for fans of the obscure, and lent the proceedings an even stranger hue than they already had. You couldn't call her contribution traditionally tuneful, but it was recognisably hers.

As for the story, it may be all taking place in the lead character's head for all we know, as there is a running commentary of what is meant to be going on provided by Duffer, but accompanied by interruptions from the voices of both Your Gracie (nothing to do with Gracie Fields, one assumes) and the growling Louis-Jack. The latter is far more threatening than the former, and the purpose appeared to be to disturb the audience as it depicted nothing less than an abusive relationship between an older man and a younger, submissive one which he tries and fails to feel better about through the prostitute's attentions.

This is no kitchen sink realism, however, as there was a definitely surreal approach to the story, which erupts into violence often as Louis-Jack does his best to dominate Duffer by manhandling him, yet also doing such odd things to him as spitting out worms on his naked body, worms that according to our unreliable narrator have emanated from the older partner's own mouth. Making this more uncomfortable is that Duffer excuses these actions by claiming that while he feels victimised, he can console himself with the thought that Louis-Jack is gaining pleasure from this, which in his mixed up mindset constitutes a good and helpful thing. If Your Gracie does the same for Duffer, the reasoning seems to be, then Duffer can only return the favour to Louis-Jack.

This gets ever more bizarre as the elder buggers the younger in the hope that they will produce an "infant", apparently jealous of women and their ability to do what men cannot, although Duffer doesn't have the heart to break it to him that is unlikely to change any time soon. Nevertheless, the young man does go through labour pains, which are now more likely to remind Young Ones fans of the episode where Vyvyan got pregnant only to discover that it was simply a really big fart. As with too many experimental films, the desire to push boundaries can risk in the finished work looking a bit silly, but here the directors managed to avoid too many of the pitfalls that would render this unwatchable. It is in its offbeat manner quite compelling, not just because it rises above its tiny budget with the power of its imagination, no matter that is what takes it to places most audiences would not be interested in.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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