Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Craig Boreham

Stars: Josh Lavery, Daniel Gabriel, Anni Finisterer, Ian Roberts.

An antipodean Midnight Cowboy? Sydney Cowboy perhaps? 

Lonesome is the sexually explicit sophomore feature from writer/director Craig Boreham, one of our finest exponents of queer cinema at the moment, and it follows his 2016 debut Teenage Kicks. The low budget film looks at the commonality of the LGBTQI+ experience of young men drawn to the big city and the allure of bright lights and excitement who feel alone, isolated and anonymous. 

Casey (Josh Lavery, in his feature film debut), a cowboy from the west, leaves his small country town after a scandal involving his relationship with a married man and heads to Sydney. He is a pariah in his small hometown and looks to make a fresh start in Sydney. There he makes a friend, sells his body for some extra cash, does some drugs, and experiences the seedier underside of Sydney’s gay subculture.   

Via an on-line dating app Casey meets Tib (Daniel Gabriel, from tv series The Other Guy, etc), a man with his own problems, and the two appear to share a connection that goes beyond sex. Tib does odd jobs, and he offers Casey an opportunity to work with him and earn some extra money while he sorts himself out, and the two men negotiate the rocky road to understanding. Casy is less open and slow to trust. 

The dialogue is minimal here, but the connection between the two men is formed through little looks and touches and gestures. 

Apparently Boreham found his two leads via a gay dating app, so they are familiar and comfortable with this environment of casual hook ups and anonymous sex, and this lends an authenticity to their performances. Both Casey and Tib are believable characters, well drawn and fleshed out, and brought to life by the actors. Lavery, who has just a handful of short films to his credit, captures Casey’s damaged soul and his insecurity perfectly, and he gives us some insight into the character’s inner thoughts. He is still haunted by a tragedy for which he feels responsible. Gabriel has a more easy-going presence, and the contrast between the two creates an interesting dynamic. Both Lavery and Gabriel develop a solid chemistry and good rapport. Former rugby player turned actor Ian Roberts appears as Pietro, a domineering leather daddy who introduces Casey to an underground bondage dungeon. 

Intimacy coordinator Leah Pellinkhof worked with the director and the actors to ensure that the sex scenes (of which there are many) seem credible and erotic without seeming gratuitous. 

Boreham’s film was shot on location in Sydney during the 2021 COVID lockdowns, which gives the city a somewhat alien and cold look. The visuals come from cinematographer Dean Francis (Drown, etc), who hones his craft shooting lots of short films. The graffiti covered alleys and familiar locations such as the iconic Stonewall Hotel in Oxford Street give the material a gritty authenticity. 

Boreham adopts an unflinching approach towards gay sex and nudity here, meaning that the film is certainly not for everybody. 


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