Clapham Junction is a dark — and sometimes disturbing — movie that weaves together the stories of multiple gay male characters as they hit the bars, the bathrooms and the parks of London looking for sex. Homophobia — and its persistence in a modern mecca like London — is the main theme of the film, with the point driven home quite graphically at times.
Originally produced for Britain’s Channel 4, Clapham Junction follows five different storylines that intersect in interesting ways throughout the film. They revolve around a commitment ceremony, a dinner party, a (seemingly closeted) gay basher who dotes on his aging grandmother, a waiter who is victimized by another basher and — the most interesting storyline — a boy who lusts after his older male neighbour.
Writer Kevin Elyot said in an interview that he was inspired to write the film after hearing about a gay bashing that took place in Clapham Square in 2005. In fact, the character who is bashed — a pivotal moment in the film that brings all the storylines together — was based largely on the real-life victim, which makes it all the more disturbing to watch.
Some of the storylines work better than others. The groom cheating on his new husband at his own wedding seems a bit cliché. The story of the boy, on the other hand, who spies on his neighbour from across the street until he finally gets the nerve to go over and seduce him, is well played out and surprisingly sensual.
The dinner party scenes give voice to straight Londoners’ attitudes towards homosexuality, and polite conversation is brushed aside when the guests overhear sirens and rush outside to witness the bloodied victim of the bashing being taken away in an ambulance. The women, who earlier feigned acceptance, turn on the lone gay guest and reveal their true feelings on the matter of public sex: “We’ve accepted you. Why can’t you behave like normal people?”
While the mood of this film is often dark, ultimately it does satisfy with some great performances from the cast. The writer makes his point, although, in truth, the film feels almost unfinished — like he had more to say but ran out of time. Overall, a thought-provoking and well-written film.