Review of ‘Chasing Pavement’

If you are familiar with the actors in the header image, you know that they are prominent gay porn actors Remy Mars and Antonio Biaggi.  The face you may be unfamiliar with is Tokio Sasaki, who is an up and coming actor. They star in the independent film ‘Chasing Pavement’.  I had a chance to watch it today on Amazon Prime for free and it is also available on Vimeo. This is my review.

The Summary (1):

‘Chasing Pavement’ is about a young black gay porn star named Rashad ‘Elijah'(Remy Mars) who is navigating friendships, work, sex, and relationships while working and living with his new roommate Takeshi (Tokyo Sasaki).  In this mayhem, Rashad finds himself enthralled with an abusive and sex positive daddy type who goes by the name of Bryson (Antonio Biaggi).  Along with these various intermingling factors of Rashad’s life, there is a lot of dialogue and interaction that sheds some minor light on various aspects of the lives of gay men.

Personal thoughts(2):

The movie was well choreographed and the cinematography is great.  However, the acting seems lackluster.  The reason being is that two of the three main characters seemed to be acting themselves.  These characters are complexed and extremely multifaceted. Yet these characters came across as one-dimensional and seemed to be plot tools for the movies progression.

Mars is great at nailing the uppity and well to do black gay male who seeks social and economic advancement through sex. However, there were times where I wondered if the character was conscious of the fact that he was being portrayed by an actor.  Now, I get that the character is supposed to be a fake poser who is putting on airs.  But, that has to be conveyed to the audience in a more direct way.  I think an exposure scene, like the scenes that leads the audience to find out that Michaela comes from the swamps of Louisiana in ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, is necessary to convince the audience that the character is being portrayed accurately.  And because there is no plot tool like that to help the audience see through Rashad’s facade, many would think it was just bad acting on Mars’ part.

The same can be said for Bryson.  The character is similar to Rashad in many ways.  But again, because we never get a chance to see behind Rashad’s and Bryson’s facade, the audience is convinced that they are just witnessing bad acting.  But again, that may not be the case, because it could just be that the characters are bad at pretending to be something that they are not. Either way, I still think that these characters need some more character development, or the plot is missing some key scenes that helps explain the characters.

Takeshi and Rico seemed to be the only characters that were authentic.  I think that gave those actors an advantage over Mars and Biaggi. These characters openly express who they are and are pretty transparent.  That can’t be said about Rashad and Bryson. We don’t see the bad in those two.  We don’t see the abusing and the people using.  

But we see Takeshi looking out his window and masturbating to people and imitating Rashad.  We see Takeshi in his most vulnerable moments.  Yet, the only time we see Rashad’s and Bryson’s vulnerability is when they have sex. And even then, it seems like another porn scene.

What really got me is that the movie centers around objectification and fetishization of black males.  Yet the main character is objectified in every form and fashion.  His only friends are people who fucked him and are interested in fucking him.  His own roommate is only interested in materializing and becoming him.  And oppose to combating that, Rashad gives in and becomes conquered by his nonblack colonizing roommate, who departs after he is finished with him for reasons that are not explained.

While the movie does a good job exposing how men, in general, are objectified in the gay community, it does not portray issues specific to black gay men.  Rashad partakes in raw gay sex, but we have yet to see him get tested or come down with an STI or STD. I did not see a condom used once, yet, sex is rampant in this movie. This man is at high risk for HIV and various diseases, but there is no reference to this in the movie.

As well, there is nothing about the complexities of gay interracial relationships.  This movie excludes the direct inappropriate behaviors that exists among many groups as they interact with black gay men. The movie excludes the fetishization of the black male body, yet fetishizes a black male body throughout the movie.  But the positive with that is that we see the man behind the fetish.  This humanizes sex workers in a way that is rarely done on screen, no matter how limiting it is.

In closing(3):

I feel this movie could’ve done so much more outside of the sex scenes, the hints and clues about various aspects of being a black gay man, the colorblind angle it tried to use, and the dismissal of high-risk sex as a threat to the black gay men.  I am happy that a movie like this was made.  While I may not be happy with every aspect, I am joyful that stories like this are getting out there.  I will definitely watch this again.  I can’t wait to see what they have up next.