Three stories, three different coincidences, starring men in a complicated web of love and lust. Indie filmmaker Mark Schwab challenges himself in his feature film Exteriors while once again inviting his audience to experience a decidedly LGBT-centric romp.
Told through three separate, yet interconnected chapters titled Wyatt, Jason, and Dr. Lesh, respectively, Exteriors explores a multitude of tones and themes. Wyatt must come to terms with his best friend, potentially rekindling his romance with an old flame. Jason finds himself cleaning the pool of a man he had a hookup with nearly a decade ago, while Dr. Lesh tells the story of a therapist who gets dangerously close to one of his unassuming clients.
Wyatt (Christian Gabriel) realizes he’s caught feelings for his friend Shane (Jacob Betts), but as fate would have it, he’s locked in a struggle of his own, choosing between Wyatt and his best friend Logan (Matthew Bridges). In what is essentially a love triangle filled with love and sacrifice, Schwab’s screenplay smartly injects Gabriel’s Wyatt with a healthy dose of deceit. Wyatt’s attitude remains unwavering as he carefully maninpulates the connective tissue between the two men and himself, a part in which Gabriel plays very capably. There’s a fair bit of melodrama caked on, though, which occasionally hampers the potency of this segment.
Jason is a more sentimental chapter but still harbors its own variety of twists and a stripped-down aesthetic. While cleaning a pool one sunny day, Jason (Julian Goza) discovers that his client is a romantic hookup from eight years ago named Kenny (Jose Fernando). Kenny, however, has a very different recollection of the encounter and thus plunges the pair into a state of uncertainty.
Out of all three stories, Wyatt and Jason feel the most grounded, while Dr. Lesh (played by Peter Stickles) is a far darker venture, more in line with Schwab’s previous work Shadows in Mind. Some viewers might find its premise a little too over the top, but in terms of the acting and the technical elements, this one feels the most balanced. The camerawork here is minimal and precise, and the colors are drab and muted. It’s a stark contrast to the previous chapters, but a testament to Schwab and cinematographer Steven Murr’s abilities to give each story its own unique flavor. The sound design and dialogue can feel a little disjointed at times, hurting moments that are meant to be immersive.
Even still, there are very few filmmakers who can examine the complex nature of gay relationships at an independent level. Mark Schwab has carved out his own niche and seems to be improving with every project he commits himself to – and Exteriors is his most versatile and complete feature yet. Whether you choose to watch it all in one sitting or as individual episodes, you’ll definitely be left pondering the actions of each character.