Young male prostitute Gabriel (Shayne Pax) spends his days on Skid Row soliciting both men and woman to earn money that he can send back home to his mother. While waiting at the bus stop one day, Gabriel meets Martha (Susan Moore Harmon), an older woman and renowned author who takes him into her home but to his surprise only for companionship not for sex. As Gabriel’s profession becomes increasingly more dangerous, he leans on Martha’s friendship and forms an unexpected and deep bond with her.
‘Peridot’ is a film from writer/director Shayne Pax, who also stars in the film as lead character Gabriel. The driving theme of the film is that everyone is looking for love and many of us, like Gabriel, tend to look for it in the wrong places. For Gabriel, he believes he’s prostituting himself to make ends meet but actually he’s looking for a deeper connection than he’s able to find. While the women that pay him are pretty harmless, it’s the men he encounters that push him into dangerous territory; particularly one man who believes that Gabriel is stealing from him during their encounters.
Gabriel’s chance meeting with Martha is a moment of change for him. The lonely elderly woman quickly takes on a maternal role and for the first time in his life, Gabriel has someone who is looking out for him. As the two get to know each other, Gabriel discovers things about Martha’s life that she’s not ready to face or talk about, and their relationship enters into a mutual push-and-pull.
‘Peridot’ packs a fair amount in to its 62 minutes but it would have benefitted from being slightly longer so it could expand on the story its telling. While we get a decent enough picture of Gabriel, there’s not enough time to properly develop his relationship with Martha meaning that the final act doesn’t pack quite the punch that perhaps it should have (or thinks it does).
Shayne Pax is suitably wide-eyed and naïve as Gabriel, bringing a boyish charm to the role and making you believe that he is a lost young boy who has fallen into a dark world. Pax raises his game opposite Susan Moore Harmon as Martha, and the two actors’ scenes together are the best moments in the film. They spark off one another, and I just wish we’d got to spend more time with them.
‘Peridot’ presents an interesting idea and it’s a meditation on love that doesn’t focus on a romantic relationship. It’s the meeting of two seemingly mis-matched characters who meet one another at the exact time they need to. There was more story to mine here than the film managed to fit into its relatively short run-time but it spotlights Pax’s talents both in front of and behind the camera. ‘Peridot’ makes an impression and it’ll leave you thinking long after the credits end.
Cast: Shayne Pax, Susan Moore Harmon, Harry Hains Director: Shayne Pax Writer: Shayne Pax Certificate: 18 Duration: 62 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Buy ‘Peridot’ now