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Review: Gayby

It isn’t easy or cheap to have a child when you’re a lesbian. Less so when you’re a gay man. If you happen to be a single, 30-something gay man who works in a comic book store, the money probably isn’t there.

So that’s why Matt (Matthew Wilkas) moved to Brooklyn, so he could afford more space for his comic book collection. And that’s why he agrees when his straight best friend Jenn (Jenn Harris) asks him if he wants to father a child with her, fulfilling a promise they made to each other in university.

Jenn is a yoga instructor (with a trust fund, so she presumably lives in Manhattan — in my experience the only people who bitch about their friends moving to Brooklyn are people who live in Manhattan) with a bad history with relationships who becomes inspired by her sister’s quest to adopt a child and decides to pop the question.

Over wine, she clarifies that she’d like to go about this as nature intended — by having sex with her gay best friend.

The results are predictably awkward — and so they should be. Distrustful of western medicine, Jenn attends a herbalist for help. Matt gets some unexpectedly expert help from his hilarious best friend Nelson (writer/director Jonathan Lisecki wrote himself the best character part ever).

For the first ten minutes or so of the film, I was uncomfortable and unsure about how this was going to play out. I was completely disturbed by the apparent coercion involved with Jenn getting Matt to have sex with her instead of doing an insemination, but as the film progressed, the story became more alive and more focused and while the characters were often awful to each other, you could watch with compassion for both Matt  and Jenn as they navigated social situations none of us ever learned about growing up.

If you’re having sex with your gay best friend to get pregnant, do you take your bra off?

If you’re trying to get your straight best friend pregnant, should you tell your dates that?

See? There was no after school special about this at all.

So Matt and Jenn carry on trying to get pregnant, juggling a Jenn’s cycle with trying to find romantic love.

This film charmed me senseless and I’ll be watching it again, for sure. It’s challenging to tell a story that hasn’t been told before, but Gayby manages to be told with absolute hilarity, grace and truth. Gayby is nicely shot, well edited, flawlessly acted and a real gem to add to anyone’s collection of gay film.

Gayby is available on DVD today, March 11, through Peccadillo Pictures. It includes several extras, including audio commentary, which my review copy does not have. I might be picking this one up myself.

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