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Harry and Max
Harry and Max
Actors: Bryce Johnson, Cole Williams, Rain Phoenix, Katherine Ellis, Roni Deitz
Director: Christopher Münch
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
UR     2005     1hr 14min

From Christopher Munch, the director of The Hours and Times, comes this unforgettable tale of intense brotherly love. Harry (Bryce Johnson) is a 23-year-old former boy-band idol who is watching his 16-year-old brother Max ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Bryce Johnson, Cole Williams, Rain Phoenix, Katherine Ellis, Roni Deitz
Director: Christopher Münch
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Family Life, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: TLA
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/19/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 14min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

My one true love...
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A film about incestuous gay brothers doesn't immediately spring to mind as the sort of film that most viewers would probably want to watch. However, one should not be put off by the seemingly incendiary subject matter. Brotherly sexual love is probably a lot more frequent than most people think and kudos should certainly be given to maverick independent film director, Christopher Munch, for tackling something that is so obviously provocative in nature.

Harry and Max, however, isn't just about brotherly incest; it's a portrait of a relationship that is much more multifaceted and wide-ranging, symbolizing the complexities and contradictions that perhaps exist in most sibling relationships. There's an element of mystery to the boys' relationship, their friendship hard to pin down; it's as though Munch is teasing us, and letting us view, through the actions of Harry and Max, how frail and delicate human relationships actually are.

Much of the action plays out when Harry (Bryce Johnson) and takes Max (Cole Williams) on a long-deferred camping trip into the San Gabriel Mountains. Harry is based in New York but has stopped over in L.A. on his way to a concert tour in Japan. Harry is a twenty-three year old boy band idol, but lately his career in the United States has been waning. Max, however, has been going from strength to strength; he's just turned sixteen and has already begun to emulate the success of his older brother.

Max has become a sort of teen idol, and spurred on by his ambitious money hungry mother (Michelle Phillips), has had his picture plastered over the covers of the latest teen-magazines. Harry won't give their mother the time of day; he resents her favoritism of his younger brother, and wants to see him escape her clutches, while she doesn't want Harry's "reckless desire for self destruction" to rub off on Max.

The bond between the brothers has always been close, so close that on a Bermuda vacation they once briefly crossed the line into incest. Max would like to repeat that Bermuda interlude, on the camping trip but Harry gently refuses him. Whereas, Max readily accepts that he is gay, Harry is fraught with sexual confusion, lately drowning himself in drink. His bewilderment becomes so pronounced that we witness him virulently masturbating to images of Max, while secretly plotting to befriend Josiah (Tom Gilroy), a forty-year-old man whom Max has occasionally been seeing.

The irony of the relationship is that the younger Max is the more focused and responsible, while Harry, at once an alcoholic and workaholic, is reckless, deceitful, and teasing. Max also has a bisexual nature. He's attracted to Harry's ex-girlfriend Nikki (Rain Phoenix), and would like to see Harry reunite with her because Max believes she could be a stabilizing factor in his brother's wayward life. Nikki knows that the two brothers are close, but she just can't quite put her finger on what is wrong.

Harry and Max is obviously a low-budget film, but the script is clever and the dialogue is intelligent and snappy, especially the brotherly repartee that develops between the two boys. Munch has also managed to inspire some fine performances out of his two leads, with sexy Bryce Johnson certainly picking up the lion's share of the acting cachet. He convincingly gets across Harry's all encompassing physical need for Max, while at the same time showing us that as part of growing up he needs to establish and respect sexual boundaries.

The ending is abrupt and will probably take most viewers by surprise. As Harry and Max grow and change so does their love, and the final scenes reinforce the illusive and evolving nature of love, and the need to constantly define it. There are no easy answers to brotherly love of this nature and escaping the clutches of physical desire is always fraught with difficulty.

In Harry and Max, Munch has created a touching portrait of brotherly love between two lonely siblings who clearly, only had each other to depend upon for security and emotional nourishment at the most pivotal moments in their lives. Mike Leonard August 05.
"
It really isn't about incest
Thomas Janowski | Rochester, NY United States | 09/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Everyone seems to think this movie is about incest. Technically, there is some incest in the film, but isn't it really just about sexuality??

Two young guys who are in the music industry are not going to be normal people. Their lives are so different from everyone else. Their sexuality is different as well. Overall, both Harry and Max are lost souls looking to grab onto to something or someone good.

And when your life is as strange as theirs is, I guess you might consider grabbing onto the one person--the only person--you think you truly know and trust--your brother."
Compelling but unpolished
Michael L. Wiersma | Springfield, MA United States | 08/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is an interesting and thought-provoking look at love and affection in a form most people would be uncomfortable with. The subject of love and sex between two brothers is a compelling and convincingly-portrayed premise for this film which sounds and looks like every other gay film except for this detail.

In fact, the story plays out like many other gay love stories where the two lovers fight and bicker, fool around with other people (partly out of need and partly just to get even closer to the true object of affection.)

So, it seems there are a few too many unexplored and uninteresting characters in the way of the real story and it seems like everyone wants to have sex with everyone else...except the two brothers really just want each other, sexually and emotionally.

Why this occurs is not really well explored or supported, except that their parents are presumed to be unfeeling and cold and perhaps they were each other's only real comfort.

The leads' acting is generally good and the chemistry between them seems real. There are some problems with the continuity of the film and the extent to which it depends on narration to move the film along and explain the story. The fact that you need narration to know what is going on is symptomatic of the screenwriting and direction deficiencies. Also, the sequence at the end will satisfy few and the film ends with a quiet and somewhat humiliating thud.

So, while the story and the study in affection are compelling and relatively well-crafted, the sum of the parts is frustrating and as much an excercise in self-destruction as in love.

I recommend this film for it's unique story and the generally gentle handling of the subject-matter, but there are some big holes in this film that leave it only partly intact."
"You have to sheath your teeth"
Patrick | Wisconsin, USA | 09/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I give props to this movie for being something I've never seen before. There aren't too many sibling incest movies out there. So this movie was different. I felt the acting was pretty good. There are some very long dialog scenes that are very difficult to do. Most movies have a lot of cuts so the actors don't really have to learn their lines. But there are very few cuts in this movie and LOTS of talking so the actors had to do a lot of studying. The dialog is also the movie's down side. The two characters in this movie can get really annoying. You wanna yell at the screen for them to just SHUT UP and stop whining. That's all they ever do is complain. They fight like real brothers do so in that way it's realistic. But annoying. The other downside is the ending. It kinda just drops off. The older brother stops seeing his younger brother. That's kind of a bummer. I would have liked to see them on good terms in the end.

But anyway, it's not the best movie I've ever seen but I enjoyed it."