So the main reason i talk about this movie is because i was reading reviews for TJ Klune’s Bear, Otter, and The Kid on Goodreads (i review the book as well on bibliothēchē). There’s a reviewer who accuse the author of the book of plagiarization of the film main plot. Which annoys me to no end, since i did watch the movie first and did not think of it being the case of copycat, but merely a mimetic version of similar idea.
Shelter told a story from ghetto part of San Pedro, California, where Zach (Trevor Wright) lives with his manipulative sister, Jeane, and become surrogate father/caregiver for her kid, Cody. Suffocated by his routines and crushed dreams Zach seeks for peace of mind at the beach. He surfs or just be there right at the seaside, or draw murals and made art works to escape his mundane job at the dinner and life in general. One day when he was retrieving his surf board at his Gabe’s, his best friend, house in the more wealthy part of the town, he was reunited with Shaun (Brad Rowe). Shaun is Gabe older brother, a published writer, who escaped from LA and his ruined relationship with his ex-boyfriend.
Shaun and Zach reconnects as they surf the waves under California skies. Things were pleasant and simple between them, until their mutual attractions addled with a shared drunken kiss complicates their relationship. Trapped between responsibility to his family and a dire need of freedom, Zach is coerced to made a life-altering decision that would risk the happiness of the people he cared about.
This beautifully shot movie tell the narrative of Zach confusion in defining himself and his sexuality. The movie is about a fight for freedom and discovery of oneself. The two lead actors deliver a solid performance that cultivates on their respective charm. Trevor Knight as Zach is sensitive and vulnerable with subtle play in moodiness and angst, with a borderline of bitterness seems like about ready to burst out from his being. Brad Rowe as Shaun, the older counterpart, is caring and easy going, he’s no longer asking question about himself, but tirelessly trying to help Zach obtaining his long-forgotten dream. This is one of those dramatic gay movie that does not utilize the campy, overused stereotypes of gay male and their relationship. It focus on cultivating emotion of the actors and viewers alike,
Since this movie seems to focus on Zach discovery of himself and his sexuality and regaining his dream. I feel like the other conflicts exists in it is unnecessarily crowding that only became a patchy, unnecessary addition just to fulfill the quota of the duration of the film (which is also a huge difference with TJ Klune’s Bear, Otter, and the Kid book). But still, Shelter is a unique addition to gay cinema, story about discovering love and relationship that purely about that, without any typical stereotype, or event that overly depress or preach to the viewers. I don’t hate it :D.
Shelter is the first feature film debut by Jonah Markowitz who directed and wrote the movie. It is also the first project produced by the here! network, an American premium network television that targets on LGBT audience. It was the well received by LGBT community and became the winner of ‘Outstanding Film – Limited Release’ at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards.