Review by Mark Schwab
December 1st, 2018
Back in the 1930's, Charlie Chaplin railed against the idea of making a "talkie"; his comedy couldn't be put into words as it was so physical. Plus, he could lose box office with foreign audiences. After he made 1936's MODERN TIMES, Chaplin saw the writing on the wall and began preparation on his talking debut. That produced THE GREAT DICTATOR, and sealed Chaplin's full mastery of the filmmaking form.
Writer/Director Guillermo Gomez's short film POSTER BOY revives the silent movie form with black and white photography (except for some amusing spot color), simulated 18 frame-per-minute shutter speeds (giving everything that classic, slightly sped-up feel) and vintage-fonted inter titles translating the unheard dialogue. It may use dated storytelling methods but it stays cheerfully topical about accepting one's true self.
Michael Davenport stars as our beleaguered hero Stuart who gets caught in a potentially embarrassing situation of mistaken identity. Despite being a buttoned-down, argyle sweater wearing nerd, Stuart strongly resembles the leather-clad, dog collar wearing "poster boy" advertising an upcoming naughty club show called "Pet Parade". Since Gomez clearly grounds his story in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, you can imagine what this implies. Shocked, Stuart becomes mobbed by admirers but also gets the attention (via text) of his sweetheart Tracey who now feels betrayed by Stuart's "secret". What follows is a very amusing series of set pieces where Stuart attempts to disguise himself in various costumes as he dodges the locals trying to unravel the mess he finds himself in.
Davenport does a fine job channeling his inner Harold Lloyd as Stuart - he is immediately likable and although the physical comedy isn't very elaborate, his look and reactions to the craziness of his situation keep the mood appropriately lively. Director Gomez makes sure his pacing is on point by keeping the energy high and never staying in one place too long - another factor of good silent comedies. Tom Shaw's score is also note-perfect in creating a lovely compliment to the silent visuals.
POSTER BOY is a loving tribute to the silent-era classics with a gentle but important message that you'll be smiling the entire way through. Certainly check it out as it begins its film festival run in 2019.