Tiger Orange

tiger orangeEvery so often, an indie comes along with an odd mixture of awkwardness and raw power, you can’t help but love (most) of it. Such is the case with Wade Gasque’s 2014 gay brothers drama, Tiger Orange. Yes, there’s weak performances particularly from lead actor Mark Strano who physically embodies the awkward, closeted brother Chet perfectly but has trouble expressing himself verbally. There are parts of the film that try too hard – the hokiness of the score making small-town California seem more like Appalachia, the log cabin the brothers inhabit, the fishing trip neither of them seem to enjoy, the stretch to understand the film’s title. So there’s that. But there’s also a surprisingly natural performance from Frankie Valente in his first starring role. Surprising because until this moment, Valente was better known as bad boy porn star Johnny Hazzard. Valente captures a nuanced Todd, the gay brother who left to find fame and fortune in Los Angeles, only to come back reluctantly needing help from his older brother who never protected him from their father’s abuse.The best thing about Tiger Orange is the in-your-face discussion of how gay people are only accepted in most of society if they live under the radar. Most straight people do as well, but those who don’t are allowed to be brazen and mistake-ridden. Gay people who refuse to follow small town’s rules don’t just get eye-rolls. They get black eyes, broken ribs, run out-of-town, and worse. Tiger Orange never shies away from this issue and bravo to them for keeping it front and center. In a world where gays are supposed to assimilate for acceptance, blending into the dullness of suburbia, it’s refreshing to watch a film challenge that notion. If a small percentage of straight America gets to be bad ass and color out of the lines while living  next to “regular folk,” why not gay people? Tiger Orange isn’t a perfect film, but it filled me with hope that small, less than perfect films can provoke these types of discussions. 3.5 out of 5 for Tiger Orange.

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