The familiar theme song from HBO's Sex and the City makes a brief appearance in the gay comedy Violet Tendencies when its lovelorn heroine Violet (Mindy Cohn) settles in for another dateless night at home. Hearing that "Carrie Bradshaw" jingle, one is forgiven for lazily labeling Violet Tendencies a gay riff on the long-running Sarah Jessica Parker comedy. But director Casper Andreas has made a movie far funnier and more heartfelt than the two big-screen adventures of Bradshaw and her girlfriends combined. Andreas and writer Jesse Archer gleefully play to gay film buffs by filling Violet Tendencies with plenty of good-looking, bare-chested men and numerous sex gags. However there are also enough sweet moments and surprising bursts of honest human drama to make this Embrem Entertainment/Fruit Fly Films co-production a gay comedy with strong crossover potential, like past arthouse hits Kiss Me Guido and Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss. A modest theatrical release will keep Violet Tendencies from becoming gross-equivalent to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert but strong word of mouth among gay media coupled with positive reviews from mainstream publications will help Andreas' fourth independent feature turn out to be his biggest success so far.
Violet (Cohn) knows she's not beautiful in a toothpick, supermodel way, but she's funny, stylish and smart. Well, at least that's what her posse of flaming friends tells her on a nightly basis. Salome (Kim Allen), the pretty receptionist at the fashion company where Violet works, insists that her friends are acting as "cock blockers" and preventing Violet from meeting a man interested in getting to know her romantically. When a cute architect named Vern (Armand Anthony) falls for her, Violet decides for the first time to abandon her longtime friends, jettison her fag hag lifestyle and focus on Vern, despite his flashes of intolerance. All Violet wants is somebody to love and after all, crowd-pleasing comedies like Violet Tendencies do require happy endings.
Violet Tendencies may share the Manhattan skyline with the countless New York-based wide releases, but don't expect soaring camerawork and luxurious production values here. Cameraman Timothy Naylor and production designer Lee Clayton stick to the sidewalks with a modest look that's true to the film's downtown vibe, story, and characters. Andreas and Archer, who's last collaboration was A Four Letter Word, emphasize characters and performances over cinematic technique.
In fact, Archer also steps in front of the camera with charm as Violet's roommate Luke, a chronic cruiser trying to change his ways to please his boyfriend, Darian (Adrian Armas). Samuel Whitten adds to the film's easygoing spirit as Violet's coworker and friend, Riley. Marcus Patrick, a veteran of soaps, provides some of the film's most heartfelt moments as Zeus, Violet's hunky friend and the one person who best understands her loneliness.
In fact, the one member of the Violet Tendencies ensemble who stumbles is writer/producer/director Andreas himself, who adds actor to his long title list playing Riley's partner Markus. Andreas comes off dull compared to his lead actress Mindy Cohn, who channels divas from Mae West to Bette Midler with saucy delight as the frank and funny Violet.
Andreas is currently in production on his next feature but hopefully Violet Tendencies will introduce him to larger audiences. The same is true for Cohn, who proves there's more to her than former sitcom glory on The Facts of Life. Cohn is the diva of Violet Tendencies but she makes a case for playing the sassy supporting role in any number of studio comedies.
Distributor: Embrem Entertainment
Cast: Mindy Cohn, Marcus Patrick, Jesse Archer, Samuel Whitten, Casper Andreas, Armand Anthony, Adrian Armas and Kim Allen
Director: Casper Andreas
Screenwriter: Jesse Archer
Producer: Casper Andreas and Jesse Archer
Rating: R for language, some sexuality and drug content.
Running Time: 99 min
Release Date: November 2 NY, November 19 LA, November 26 Exp.