Directed by Jon Shear
Written by Daniel Reitz and Jon Shear
Released January 24, 2000 at Sundance Film Festival
Review by Stephen O. Murray
May 12, 2002.
Senseless violence (hate crimes) against men who love men is the mainspring of the edgy and at times hallucinogenic Urbania (2000, adapted by producer/director Jon Shear and author of the play Urban Folk Tales by Daniel Reitz).
The film is carried by Dan Futterman’s performance as the dangerously wounded Charlie, augmented by superb performances from all its cast especially Lothaire Bluteau as a brain-damaged homeless man, Josh Hamilton as a bartender accepting of human needs, and Alan Cumming as a friend who no longer leaves his apartment (presumably a PWA).
Shear had starred in the stage play and made the film on a budget of less than a quarter of a million dollars. It is a very dark in look as well as subject matter. Catharsis does not come easily, but does come eventually to its anguished and witty protagonist, after stalking his lover’s murderer, the racist (etc.) Dean [Samuel Ball].
Though its performers are less well-known than those in In the Bedroom, another film addressing the same question (“What do you do after what’s most important in your life ends violently?), I think they are as compelling. The plot of Urbania is harder to follow, but its denouement is more plausible than that of In the Bedroom.
Dan Futterman remains best known for playing Vincent Grady on Judging Amy.) Shear has no other writing or directing credits listed on IMDB; Reitz has no other feature film credits.
There is a thoughtful interview of Shear by Cythia Fuchs here.
previously published by AssociatedContent, 16 May 2002
©2002, 2016, Stephen O. Murray