Cowboys & Angels

There is very little of anything original in Cowboys & Angels, but it is still a nice film nonetheless.  The unique aspect of this Irish film is that there is a friendship between a straight man and a gay man, and there is no fear or apprehension from the straight guy about his roommate's sexuality.  If anything, Shane (Michael Legge, Angela's Ashes, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?) is in awe of his roommate Vincent (Alan Leech, The Escapist).  Vincent has lots of cool friends, gets into all the cool clubs, and looks like he's always having fun.  Shane, on the other hand, dresses preppy/boring, has few friends, and doesn't do much of anything. The other weird thing is that Legge and Leech look a lot like Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings. Who knew that Sam was gay?

Anyway, Shane is looking for a flat closer to the city, where he works in a boring desk job. All the good places are taken, and he spots a two-bedroom the same time that Vincent does. They agree to room together, and things are initially pretty chilly because the two are so different. Vincent is in school to be a fashion designer, and picks up men for one-night stands. Shane just sits at home, bored. It turns out the two went to school together a long time ago, and as they spend more time together, they begin to open up. Shane has a huge crush on Gemma (Amy Shiels, Veronica Guerin, The Abduction Club), Vincent's good friend.

Shane finally allows Vincent to have his way with him...and give him a makeover. Shane now looks like he's a fun guy, and people are taking notice. Like every teen movie in America, the newfound fame begins to change Shane. He becomes more arrogant and self-centered, caring less for the people around him and more for himself. Writer/director David Gleeson (Hunted, Feels Like Home) adds in a pretty arbitrary plot about Shane's neighbor Keith (David Murray, King Arthur, Veronica Guerin). Keith is a drug dealer, and preys on Shane's need for money to enlist his help in selling drugs. The only reason this ridiculous premise sounds plausibe is that Gleeson uses a gentle touch in writing his characters.

Legge and Leech give two very natural performances. They look and feel very comfortable in their characters, and Gleeson's decision to omit the homophobia aspect that every other film would include is a really nice touch. It allows him to delve further into the friendship between these two guys, and he spends enough time with the characters to make the friendship believable. Shane basically lost his childhood. He had to work quickly after high school to support his family. He doesn't have a real concept of how to have fun, or what his dreams were. Vincent is the person who changes all of this. There's nothing profound going on here, it's just a nice small movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Not Rated but contains language, and some sensuality, most likely an R.

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