Directed by: Emrhys Cooper
Starring: Emrhys Cooper, Anthony Johnson, Gerald Mcullough, Donal Brophy
LGBT Film Review by: Jack Bottomley
Social media and the modern cult of celebrity has become a two-headed beast in many ways. Once upon a time a celebrity was considered someone who had achieved fame through his or her work in the public eye – a film star/director for instance – or who had attained a fanbase for their contributions to their audiences and society as a whole. Now, a celebrity can be deemed as such by being known merely as “that guy who farted on Big Brother Series whatever” or “the woman who called somebody a ‘see you next Tuesday’ on Wife Swap”, indeed the introduction of social media has made even larger icons out of people who know how to self promote, even if what they are promoting is little more than white teeth, abs and butt cheek. In an era like this a short like Trophy Boy is very on the pulse.
Opening with an overpowering array of snapshot Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pics and posts, Trophy Boy unravels the perceived glamour of this “fame” as it progresses before revealing the reality in a more gritty finale, backed by composer Aydin Ali and Cameron Edward Neilson’s strong song “Beautiful Boy”. The film tells the story of young man James (Emrhys Cooper) living a life of certified social notoriety until it all goes downhill when he is broken up with by his wealthy older boyfriend Mark (Gerald Mcullough). Taken aback by the prospect of having to pay his own way and get a job, James decides to seek out a new man and is confident that his status will ensure him a partner in an instant.
Starring and directed by Cooper this short is truly of the hour in its topics of discussion and despite being a bit too short to fully delve into the darkness it hints at, Trophy Boy is an attention-grabbing piece of craft. Anthony Johnson’s (who also co-stars in the film) screenplay picks at ideas of trophy partner culture, as well as sexual identity and the vices that cling to living with wealth or supposed fame like remora to a shark. In one key sequence we see James and his pal Andy (Johnson) forced to confront their ultimately destructive way of life and while Andy reaches a point of realization, James still clings to the superficial pleasures he deems necessary to living. In moments like this the dark underbelly of social celebrity is well realized, even if – like I stated earlier – the film feels a tad short to fully delve into this harsh reality.
That said Cooper’s film addresses a lot in the time it has and takes viewers on a journey through the highs of party life and some lows. While some effective cinematography by Benjamin J. Murry and editing by Christian Suau punctuates the film with a high energy one second and a quietly dramatic punch the next. Meanwhile the characters themselves are allowed to stand out due to some excellent direction and performances. Cooper excels in the lead as the vain “star”, and is remarkably believable and almost childlike in his unwavering pursuit of this life and its riches, in spite of the dangers and warnings from his fed up boyfriend Mark (played unflashily by Gerald Mcullough). While Anthony Johnson is most excellent as Andy who has some well timed comic moments, as well as emerging as the film’s most likeable character, who truly wins our affections more and more after he is first introduced.
So, in an age where – and this is real – the winners of Love Island going to Greggs makes news headlines (yes, really), the time could not be any better for a film like Trophy Boy and all involved are up to the task of making this a very memorable watch.
Watch the official movie trailer below...