Breaking Glass // 2010 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 26th, 2010
Looking good is the best revenge!
Not to be confused with the best-selling book The Adonis Complex, Christopher Hines has made a documentary film about gay men's obsession with having the perfect body called The Adonis Factor. As if being gay weren't quite hard enough, he reveals that guys in West Hollywood better be sporting some muscle and absolutely no fat or they will be ignored and invisible. The film makes you think there are only skinny guys, muscular guys, and then the big fat hairy bears. There doesn't seem to be any room for average or just simply fit: it's all about extremes. Of course this is a shallow and silly topic, but it is one I realized hits close to home. To my horror I realized I was watching the film thinking "That guy who is supposed to be a muscle model is totally fat!" Yep, I am criticizing the self-proclaimed pretty people in this film just as hard as the rest of the world.
It is an interesting topic, but one that is far too apparent. Of course men like boys who are beautiful! The film does a great job of skimming the surface and revealing some of the insecurities that drive this phenomenon. What it never does is admit that a lot of its subjects are on illegal steroids, eating incredibly calorie restricted diets, and possessed of a mania about body that pierces much further than the subjects admit. The problem is that the film allows the subjects it interviews to tell us what they want us to know and nothing further. It's a glossy magazine article, and it never plumbs to the depths I wish it would. Oh, they do address some of it, but it never shows you the lengths these guys go to. We get no shots of men bent over jamming needles 2-3 inches in their backsides, no sequences of them begging doctors for steroids, or the zits and other telltale signs to look out for once they do engage in this activity. The film is satisfied simply to take these guys at face value, which means it's just as pretty as its subjects.
The DVD is part of a series of documentaries that started off with The Butch Factor, a film that explored the idea that some gay men wanted to act straight out of a self-loathing. This is the natural sequel taking the hatred of typical queer higher, and it does offer three views of the topic. We hear from those that go to the gym to look impossibly hot in their 30s, then there are the emaciated 20-year-old twinks who live on diet soda and cigarettes, and finally we get self-identified bears who just let their whole gut go wild and natural. The message is clear: you have to become that which you desire. It's a cannibalistic culture, and the gays only eat their own kind. As a grace note we get a gothic artist model who is so painfully awkward that he becomes beautiful. Oddly enough, it's the freaky guy who comes off as the most charming.
The DVD copy we got at the Verdict was a screener, so all I can evaluate is the feature. I don't think there will be any bonus features, and honestly there couldn't be anything other than more interviews or outtakes. The feature speaks for itself. The transfer looks fine, and it is the usual TV-quality documentary footage. There are no apparent visual problems other than it is about as artful as a cable special. Sound is simple stereo, and the dialogue is clear.
The voices here are only superficial ones from big cities in California and Atlanta. It's like the filmmakers sought out the most vapid porn stars, fitness trainers, and circuit party boys to hammer the point home that perfection wouldn't even make them happy. The irony here is these guys talk about how flawless they strive to be, and yet most of them are missing that six pack or have something wrong with their face. Yeah, most of these guys are not worthy of being models and the ones that are can barely speak a full sentence. It's the older and wiser men who do not concentrate on their looks that come off the most intelligent. But isn't that the cruel truth of youth and beauty? It always comes when you can least appreciate it. The smart ones are nowhere near as visually pretty.
The Adonis Factor never goes far enough, but if you want some smug eye candy talking about how powerful pretty is, it is worth the rental. The ironic part is many people will rent this either to look at all the hot guys on parade or as fuel to workout harder at the gym. Me? I'm popping this one in on the treadmill.
Guilty of being pretty vacant.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Breaking Glass
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated