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Wellspring presents
Drift (2001)

"Have you ever met someone who you think is a person you want to be with all your life?"
- Ryan (R.T. Lee)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 03, 2002

Stars: R.T. Lee, Greyson Dayne, Desi del Valle
Other Stars: Sebastien Guy, T. Jerram Young, Jonathan Roessler
Director: Quentin Lee

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sexual dialogue, sex)
Run Time: 01h:26m:16s
Release Date: May 21, 2002
UPC: 720917532325
Genre: romance

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-B-B- C-

DVD Review

Drift seems like it should be a rewarding cinematic experience. More often than not, queer films will be about someone coming out of the closet, or their first experience with their sexuality. With Drift, writer-director Quentin Lee instead paints a picture of a mature homosexual relationship, showing us (at least, those of us outside the gay community) that relationships between men are about much more than sex. They are also about love, passion, pain, and a spiritual connection between two people. Unfortunately, Lee's methods for delivering these important messages result in a film that feels self-important, precious, and more than a little pretentious.

Ryan (Lee) has been involved seriously with Joel (Guy) for several years when he begins to feel that the spark has gone out of the relationship. His lover has become distant and reserved. Ryan finds his eyes wandering to Leo (Roessler), a young writer who has yet to be involved in a serious relationship. Contemplating the different paths life has placed before him, Ryan imagines three possible futures (ala Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run), searching for the person and the events that will fill the void in his heart.

Lee's story structure is interesting, but it's never exactly clear why these three possibilities are being shown, or even where one ends and another begins. Certain dialogue is spoken several times to different characters, but there is no clear point at which each scenario begins. If fact, they are so different as to seem totally disconnected from one another at times, which makes the message of the film somewhat difficult to grasp. What is Ryan searching for? Which of these possibilities is right for him? The ending tries to answer these questions in a monologue from Ryan (whose rather trite narrations are often featured, and tend to bog down the film in a lot of intellectual blather), but his answers seem to ignore the very issues at hand.

Clearly a film of this nature has a limited audience, and Lee's budget limitations required that the film be shot on digital video; in fact, the intimate, spontaneous qualities of DV serve the picture well. However, the actors are all fairly amateurish, which is generally expected with indie films, but the naturalistic, documentary camerawork doesn't blend well with the wooden performances.

Lee's ideas are good, and I applaud his efforts to tell the untold story, but his writing is far too concerned with serving overarching themes rather than the story and characters at hand. When Ryan and Leo share conversations about how serial killers are romantic, or how Leo's Internet relationship with an admitted child-abuser was "passionate," it doesn't feel like two characters talking, it feels like a writer shoving his ideas down our throats.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Drift was shot on digital video, which always makes the image a little tough to grade. I'll say this; from what I can tell, the DVD transfer represents the source material accurately. There's a lot of obvious grain, a lack of depth and three-dimensionality, and a dull color palette. Blacks are solid but severely lacking in contrast. On the other hand, the image is fairly sharp and artifacting is visible but never intrusive. Once again, any shortcomings can be attributed to the digital cameras used.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Drift features both a 2.0 and a 5.1 track, and darned if I can tell the difference between the two. The film is almost entirely dialogue-based (even more so than most character dramas), with only the score to fill out the front soundstage a bit. Luckily, dialogue is understandable and balanced well with the music, though at times it sounds a bit muffled and rough. Perhaps the 5.1 track anchors the speech in the center a bit more, but other than that, both tracks offer a suitable presentation of very undemanding material

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview with Quentin Lee
Extras Review: The main selling point in terms of extras here is a 20-minute interview with director Quentin Lee. Conducted sometime before the film was released to the festival circuit, it consists of Lee sitting in front of a stationary camera, being asked questions by an off-screen interviewer. The piece is presented unedited, and the rough video is somehow appropriate to the informal feel of the interview. Lee offers some insight on the development of the project and his connection to the story, and offers some comments on how and why the choice was made to shoot on digital video. Sprinkled throughout is some sparse production footage.

Other extras include the trailer and filmographies for the director and stars.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

An interesting experiment weighed down by pretension and tedium, Drift is an unsuccessful attempt to offer a gay twist to a familiar "what if?" storyline and offer commentary on the meaning and importance of relationships. Full of a lot of bland sentiments about love and soul mates, but nothing revelatory or of any real substance, it's a relationship movie that's nearly as hollow as a one-night stand.


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