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an honorary for David Lynch 

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
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Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
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Looking: The Movie Review

Manuel here with an extra episode of HBO LGBT to celebrate the release of Looking: The Movie. I get the title format but would it have hurt Andrew Haigh to give it a less generic title. I mean, “Looking for Closure” would have been a bit on the nose but it’d have fit nicely with the show’s episodic titles (which included “Looking for a Plot” and “Looking for Home” after all).

I have gone on the record before saying how much I treasured Looking—recapping its second season right here was wonderful and a chance to really flesh out why I think Haigh and Michael Lannan’s show was such a striking meditation on gay male intimacy...

That remained at the core of Looking: The Movie which, despite exploring an impending marriage (between Agustín and Eddie) and resolving the show’s core romantic triangle (are you #TeamKevin or #TeamRichie?), worked best as an attempt at exploring the power of gay male friendship.

The film begins with Patrick returning to San Francisco—he’s been in Colorado roughly since the series ended—for Agustín wedding. Haigh shows us the Bay Area as we cruise by alongside Patrick in a cab on his way to lunch with the boys. It’s a way to ease back into this world and also a chance to help us catch up with what’s happened since he left, namely that Dom’s chicken window is going strong (not so his romantic life), Doris is enjoying domestic bliss with Malik, Agustín has finally stopped being the show’s most insufferable character (thank you Eddie!), and Richie is still with his boozy ginger boyfriend. (Kevin, as we see later, has gone blonde presumably because he’s that type of gay but also because Russell Tovey had likely just finished or would just be headed to play blond Rodolpho in A View from the Bridge).

Playing to the show’s strengths, Haigh is smart to shuttle between two-handers and sprawling ensemble scenes. Thus we get the requisite drunken bachelor party outing that has everyone enjoying themselves (with a wonderful callback to the last time Patrick and Richie’s ginger bf got into a “what’s a good way of being gay” discussion—spoiler alert, Haigh minces no words in giving Patrick the upper hand, a subtle fuck you to the show’s haters), but we also get touching moments between Patrick and Agustín (a tender talk about the fear of fucking up), between Patrick and Dom (your very own slash fic come to life and a reminder of the tenuous fine line between friendship and attraction), and between Patrick and both his previous beaus.

Framed by Agustín and Eddie’s wedding—a vision of normalcy that terrifies Agustín who had prided himself on being a queer radical a couple of years earlier—the film openly addresses what it means to live as a gay man in an era where things like marriage and monogamy need not be synonymous with heterosexuality. The frisson of such conversations (in particular Kevin’s lecture to Patrick about his cowardice and inability to see beyond his own prissy prudishness) makes the film go into uncomfortable places, especially in the way it calls out Patrick as the respectability avatar of the gay community he’s turned out to be. But it’s a testament to Haigh & co. that these debates linger in the air rather than get tidily resolved. That’s precisely the strength of the film’s final image: a fleeting gaze amidst a crowded group that could mean anything or nothing at all, an ending or a brand new beginning.

Fun Awards Fact: It’s hard to believe that the show received ZERO Emmy nominations (not for its stellar cast, not for its gorgeous cinematography, not for its beautiful scripts, not for its ace direction). Might the made-for-TV movie fare any better? I’m hoping it goes the Hello Ladies route which was unable to nab any noms during its two season run but earned nominations (Outstanding Television Movie, Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special) for its movie encore. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out!

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Reader Comments (6)

It really was a terrific finale, leaving me as unresolved as every episode did... which is exactly why I love the series. And that goodbye between Patrick and Kevin, wow, what a wallop!

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJS

I really liked the finale as well. It felt like a great send off to these characters while also feeling like something that could be enjoyed independently of the series itself. My one quibble was with Brady (Richie's boyfriend) being so unbelievably odious in that Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris way where it's impossible for any sane person to root for that relationship. If Brady had been written with a bit more humanity and affection, it would have made the ending a little more fraught with emotional complication and less clean. Overall, though it was very satisfying and I'll miss these characters.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

It was a very satisfying finale. I was #TeamRichie but my favorite scene of the film was the beautifully-played scene between Russell Tovey and Jonathan Groff. It was uncomfortable, but so emotionally resonant. As sad as I am that the show was short-lived, the show ended on a high note. The show could really only sustain its story for four, maybe five seasons. I'll miss "Looking" and I will revisit its two seasons often.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Maybe Andrew Haigh was inspired by this

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

I was always #TeamAnyoneButPatrick, but that vape-propelled smooching with Dom definitely got my attention.

On the whole, a great finale. Tovey and Castillo broke my heart, both of them.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

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