Long before Gregg Araki made the affecting Mysterious Skin, he became a leading wayward light in the New Queer Cinema vanguard via hell-for-leather indie hits such as this self-styled ‘irresponsible’ movie.
Agit-queer, you could call it. And self-indulgent as Araki surely was, his break-out flick still bristles with film-school fervour and righteous rage.
Araki pitched his previous films, Three Bewildered People In The Night and The Long Weekend (O’Despair), as assaults on the “smug yuppie schtick” of The Big Chill.
Fine sell, dull movies: how much ennui can you handle? End, mind, slammed Araki’s imprint into gear by hopping a ride with two HIV-positive lovers in pursuit of thrills.
Jon (Craig Gilmore) is a jaded movie critic, while Luke (Mike Dytri) is a randy hustler. Araki’s debt to Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave is proudly flaunted, of course.
Cine self-awareness is ladled on elsewhere, too, with a purpose that exceeds mere homage: a gay-basher sports a sex, lies and videotape t-shirt, situating Araki in a turn-of-the-decade indie-scene context.
But there’s real feeling here too: the core relationship generates equal parts heat and heart. Shame Araki didn’t give us any extras, but his End lives on.