In today’s world, quite a bit of importance is placed on a person’s sexuality. Whether someone is hetero-, homo-, or bisexual and whether they are so by choice or by genetic predisposition, seems to be a popular topic in media and everyday conversations. Just look at the probing questions Clay Aiken has to answer in every interview. Leave the poor guy alone already.
Zerophilia complicates things further (or perhaps simplifies them since it creates scenarios far more complex than we have to deal with in real life) by introducing a new form of human sexuality that is essentially a blend of the hetero-, homo-, and bisexual tendencies that we are beginning to understand today. A Zerophiliac is a person that is able to change sex upon achieving orgasm. The mere thought of a sexual encounter already sets the physical transformation into motion.
A chance sexual encounter in the woods with a mysterious woman (played by 80s sexual icon Kelly LeBrock
) has a profound effect on Luke (Taylor Handley
), as it triggers the very rare condition caused by an extra chromosome. With the new sexual awareness Luke begins to notice minor changes to his body. While staring into the mirror, he observes the sudden lack of hair on his chest. Early on, there is a distinct feeling that Luke is not entirely comfortable with his own manliness.
Perhaps inspired by the loss of his virginity, he invests in a semi-trailer truck tractor, a vehicle clearly out of his range of masculinity. When he takes it into a garage to have it checked out, he meets Max (Kyle Schmid
), a young and uncharacteristically handsome auto mechanic. Unlike Luke, Max is very macho and there is subtle sexual tension between the two, particularly when Max leaves the room and Luke begins to playfully imitate him. His embarrassing display is interrupted by Max’s attractive sister Michelle (Rebecca Mozzo
), who walks in and catches him in the act. Despite sweating profusely and experiencing general feelings of discomfort, Luke manages to muster up the courage to ask the girl out and to his surprise, she accepts the invitation.
Although their date begins very promisingly, Luke’s aches and sweats return as soon as his mind begins to wander toward sexual thoughts about Michelle. He excuses himself from the table, makes his way out of the restaurant, and upon opening up his shirt in the back alley, discovers that he has grown a pair of breasts.
It is here that we begin to learn more about Luke’s condition. Along the way he is aided by his inquisitive roommate Keenan (Dustin Seavey
), who even contacts a specialist to help the two of them find some answers. Sydney (Gina Bellman
), who claims to be a doctor, provides them with all the necessary explanations, including the fact that in order to remain stable in one form for good, Luke must have sex with another Zerophiliac.
I must say that the basic premise is both highly original and pertinent and that first-time writer-director Martin Curland
shows great care with the set up and gradual development of all of the story elements. He treats the subject with enough intelligence to keep it plausible, but maintains a lighthearted tone throughout the film that prevents it from feeling overtly heavy-handed. Indeed, the screenplay has a great sense of humor and contains several good twists – one very large at the end of the second act that I could not foresee, but that proved to be an inspired touch. One of the most refreshing feelings while watching any film is that sense of not knowing where the story will lead next and Curland achieves this in several instances.
All the actors turn in fine performances and there is a sense of genuine friendships that develops as the story progresses. When Luke transforms into Luca (Marieh Delfino
) about mid-way through the picture, I began to notice all the little sexual nuances that Curland had laid out. Keenan first looks at his roommate’s transformation with disgust, but later begins to exhibit some curiosity. Keenan’s girlfriend Janine (Alison Folland
) also takes a sudden interest in the new, more feminine, and possibly more sensitive Luke. The excellent performances by the actors help bring the sexual ambiguities into the forefront of the story. And when Max shows up at the door and he and Luca first exchange looks of adoration, I began to understand that there was a little bit more to the earlier scene in the garage between Max and Luke. As the film progresses, that early scene begins to make even more sense.
Unfortunately the film loses some steam in the final act as it becomes littered with those moments of typical relationship movie misunderstandings and explanations. Luke wants to fix things with Michelle, but can’t exactly reveal his secret to her so we are forced to share the same, overused frustrations. It is at that point, actually, that I started to sense that everything would turn out just fine.
The digital cinematography leaves a lot to be desired, but budget-wise, it has at least allowed Curland to make the movie. The film doesn’t quite gel perfectly and the resolution is maybe a bit too customary after a solid hour of ingenuity, but for all of its imperfections Zerophilia is an enjoyable watch.
If you are a heterosexual male, trapped in a woman’s body, and you suddenly find yourself drawn to other males, then what are you? What if you were homosexual to begin with? As things in life get more and more complicated, the important thing is just to be yourself. It’s a simple and probably overused message at this point, but Zerophilia gets it across in a fresh and original context.