San Francisco’s gay nightlife comes alive in director Thales Corrêa’s modern romance, Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots, in which Brazilian Born Leo and Donnie explore the clubs and bars in hopes for love. On a trip from his home in Los Angeles, Leo played by director Thales Corrêa, is motivated to track down his online romantic partner with the help of Donnie (Izzy Palazzini). Along the way, the two are faced with the dilemmas of modern dating and how people’s online persona may not reflect who they are in the flesh. Set over one eventful evening, Leo and Donnie are faced with troubles to their relationship with each other as well as understanding their own self worth.
What stands out most is the incredible chemistry between Leo and Donnie which is electric from the get-go. The two are in total conflict at times as their ideas of dating, romance and sex are oppositional but the two clearly share a strong bond that makes for great viewing and interesting dilemmas over the eventful evening. While Leo has an idealistic longing for a passionate relationship, Donnie is content to enjoy his sexual encounters, like with his ‘straight’ friend Hunter (Oscar Mansky). The clashing ideologies of Leo and Donnie are shown both through their actions and their words as Donnie more openly speaks of his lust for others while Leo is much more conservative.
With the multitude of locations throughout the film, the beautiful natural lighting helps add to the realism of the night as shadowy bars and neon lit clubs come to life. With colourist Edo Brizio on board, the nightclub lighting really pops, allowing for some great cinematography to shine through and create gorgeously framed images. Using real locations from San Francisco’s Castro District, Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots not only serves as a great advertisement for the cast and crews work but also for the LGBT community that can be found in this district. The film feels raw and truthful to real experiences and putting them in these locations helps to only further the realism of this film. Couple that with a fantastic soundtrack from composer Same K which helps perfectly set the mood and make you feel in the moment with our protagonists.
This film not only tackles issues of love and sex faced by the gay/bisexual men of today but also ideas of internalised homophobia through the character of Hunter. He constantly asserts his straightness and any public signs of affection from Donnie aimed at him are quickly dismissed. There are also ideas of multi culturalism front and centre with Leo and Donnie often switching between speaking their native tongue of Portuguese to English and back again. This culture clash is not only between Brazil and America but for Leo between his life in Los Angeles and his experience in San Francisco. With director Thales Corrêa playing the lead role of Leo, he is able to delve deeper in to this multicultural look on San Francisco by exploring it on both a national and international level.
As the night goes on, Leo and Donnie become further and further conflicted, whether that is with how they handle relationships, their drinks or partaking in drugs. The conflict between the two comes to the fore when the two are invited to an underwear only party which only raises more conflict between the two. You get to see these characters relationship develop over one night and see how the online dating world can affect other aspects like your own self worth and friendships. Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots is able to effectively explore a range of issues that many young gay and bisexual men are faced with in this technology driven time and does so with a careful gaze which never exploits its subject matter. Outside of Hunter and his internalised homophobia this story respects these men’s sexuality and instead just looks at how different people approach modern dating differently.
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures