Rugby team-mates Mark (Alexander Lincoln) and Warren (Alexander King) enjoy a drunken one-night stand following a night out, and the next morning the reality of what they’ve done hits them. Both in relationships – Mark in an open relationship with an older man, and Warren in a relationship with another team-mate John (Peter McPherson) – the two men embark on an affair, which they try to conceal from the rest of the team. As their feelings for each other intensify, Mark and Warren begin to question their choices and the threat of being exposed hangs over them both.
‘In From The Side’ is the latest film from director Matt Carter, who wrote the screenplay with co-writer Adam Silver. A hit so far on the festival circuit, the film is refreshing for gay cinema in that it doesn’t portray the usual coming out story, instead taking the audience into the lives of a group of friends and team-mates who play together in a gay rugby team. All of these men are out and comfortable with who they are, and little attention is paid to their sexuality, which I really appreciated.
At the centre of the film is the affair between Mark and Warren. Despite being in an open relationship, Mark starts breaking the rules of his arrangement with his partner Richard (Alex Hammond), as he falls deeper for Warren. As their behaviour becomes increasingly more reckless, the two men take chances that could easily result in their team-mates finding out, and for Warren his long-term partner who he’s stuck in a rut with but refuses to change his situation. What starts out as a bit of adrenaline-fuelled fun, gets complicated very quickly.
While that storyline is the central thread, what ‘In From The Side’ does so well is flesh out the supporting characters. In doing so it draws the audience in as they start to care about them all. There’s Mark’s best friend Henry (William Hearle), who is sinking into alcohol addiction as he deals with his feelings for Mark, and Gareth (Carl Loughlin), the team bully who takes any opportunity to stir up problems while masking his own insecurities. There’s also the burst of energy that is Pinky (Pearse Egan), the member of the team that proves most reliable and a shoulder for everyone.
There’s also the rugby aspect of the film too. This cast convinces as a talented squad of rugby players and the scenes of them playing are well choreographed. While Mark and Warren’s affair progresses, the audience also witnesses the team trying to land a victory so the stakes, for all aspects of the film, feel high.
The performances from the ensemble are superb. Alexander Lincoln and Alexander King simply sizzle on-screen as Mark and Warren. Their chemistry is off the charts and King in particular impresses as he brings a multi-faceted performance to a rather complicated, and at times unlikeable, character. The supporting cast each play their roles well, creating an atmosphere of family among their characters while ensuring the audience can relate to them. It feels like there’s definitely scope for a continuation of these characters should Carter decide to make a sequel or a spin-off series.
‘In From The Side’ offers a glimpse into the life of a group of friends who play rugby together and happen to be gay. It’s different from pretty much every other film I’ve seen in recent years that falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and it’s not a surprise that the film is being embraced by the mainstream. With well-written characters, a truly engaging story and strong performances, ‘In From The Side’ is without a doubt the best gay film that’s been released in a while, and it’s also one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
Cast: Alexander Lincoln, Alexander King, Carl Loughlin, Christopher Sherwood, Peter McPherson, Pearse Egan, William Hearle, Alex Hammond Director: Matt Carter Writers: Matt Carter and Adam Silver Certificate: 15 Duration: 124 mins Released by: Verve Pictures Release date: 16th September 2022