Starring: Wendell Pierce, Aja Naomi King, Emory Cohen, E.J. Bonilla, Yolonda Ross, Liam Benzvi
Synopsis: June (Cohen) wants to come out of the closet but fears for the possible aftermath. In order to test his feelings he arranges a date online with an older man called Joe (Pierce). As June and Joe spend a night together a corresponding love story is taking place between Joe’s daughter Abigayle (King) and her friend from school, Dexter (Bonilla).
Wendell Pierce may be best known for his aptly named “Bunk” character in The Wire, though is by no means keen on becoming typecast. Four finds him as a family man who has arranged to meet a teenage guy intent on losing his virginity. Pierce’s performance is fantastic – not unsurprising considering his part in the phenomenal Wire series – and tailored to his appearance. A formidable presence, he embodies the “first time” fears whilst also showing a caring, embraceable side to him. Pierce is a tremendous actor and eats up his scenes – one monologue, especially, showcasing his skill – who is trying out daring material and making it provocative and dramatic.
It is not only Wendell’s film and as the title suggests, there is a focus on four characters. Wendell shares his scenes with the lesser-known Emory Cohen. Cohen ignores any imitation that may come from standing alongside the burly frame of Pierce and adeptly adds the raw emotion of angst to Pierce’s soft and wistful portrayal.
The remaining two stories are of Joe’s (Pierce) daughter and her love interest. Moments of poignancy and tender conversations come and go through this section though this arc remains largely uninteresting. There are no issues with the pair’s acting ability but any statement Four aims to make is mostly found in Pierce and Cohen’s part.
Four has elements that are thought-provoking and dramatic – another valiant step forward in the gay cinema sphere. Pierce deserves some accolades but with the mediocre nature of the film that may not come to fruition.
By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on LiveForFilms