Like It Is (1998)

I originally saw this film at aGLIFF in 1999, and I liked it enough. It wasn’t mind-blowing in the same way as the original Queer as Folk or Bedrooms & Hallways, but the coming of age story was handled in a novel way.

I rented it again because for some reason, I wanted to see Roger Daltrey — yes, the lead singer of the Who — play a gay record label executive. I’m on the fence about whether Roger Daltrey is handsome, but he is definitely sexy. There’s a scene where he’s walking around in a tight tank top, and he’s got nice pecs and biceps for a guy who’s 60 (or late 50s, when the film was made).

Craig, a bare-knuckle boxer from a small English town, attempts to have sex with Matt but discovers he’s not masculine enough to withstand the pain. His fierce reaction to his failure spurs Matt to comfort Craig, offering him a place to stay if he ever comes to London.

Craig turns up at Matt’s place unexpectedly, and Dani, Matt’s female roommate, doesn’t like the intrusion. Matt shows Craig around his world of night clubs, parties and concerts, but everyone around Matt and Craig don’t like the familial bliss developing between them.

Craig catches Matt fooling around with an ex-boyfriend, spurring him to return to his small town for a final score.

The characters in Like It Is aren’t exactly round. In the case of Dani and Daltrey’s character Kelvin, that’s all right — they’re music industry insiders, and they’re narcissistic as all get out. We’re not supposed to sympathize with them, although it is incredibly fun to watch Daltrey play a bitter hag of a man.

But in the case of Craig and Matt, some of their actions are painted a bit too broadly. On the cusp of landing an career boon, Matt dashes off to find his love — which feels as fabricated as it sounds. Craig, meanwhile, has a stubborn streak about his upbringing that’s never really fully explained.

Then there are the accents. The sound quality of the film isn’t great to begin with, but it doesn’t help that nearly all the characters speak in a brogue. Of course, we’re not talking Merchant-Ivory here anyway.

But suspend your belief about certain parts of the chracterization, and Like It Is is actually a decent film. The coming-of-age twists in the plot don’t feel contrived, and the guy-on-guy action is unapologetic. Clocking in at 90 minutes, it breezes by quick.