It’s hard to avoid politics from discussion nowadays as our current president is literally a TV personality and continues to make headlines on a daily basis, mostly for non-political reasons. One hot topic as of late is for businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs. There are plenty of legal ramifications that come with this, but one could argue this promotes discrimination while another could say this allows government to say what’s okay when it comes to religious beliefs. As an openly gay Mexican-American, this obviously makes me extremely uncomfortable and I do my best to avoid conversations like these as I always get nervous that someone is going to say something outrageously offensive. Hulu has found great success in their new series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, set in a future where women’s rights are taken from them and serve only to reproduce. There’s a flashback to when this movement started and two women are attempting to make a purchase at a coffee shop and the barista kicks them out while yelling obscenities. Both the women and viewers are furious watching this, but for that barista and other customers in the show, this is just another day and it’s completely acceptable behavior. When I saw that scene, all I could think was “This is the shit I’m afraid of.”
In B&B, writer-director Joe Ahearne turns what should be considered basic human rights into a paranoid thriller and it’s eerily effective. Marc and Fred are a gay couple who a year prior successfully sued the Christian owner of a bed and breakfast due to him refusing to allow them a room with a double bed. They decide to go back and check-in to shove it in the owner’s face. They meet the owner’s son, Paul, who has some secrets of his own and disagrees with much of his father’s values. They also find out there’s another visitor, a Russian named Alexie. While initially drawn to Alexie’s good looks, Marc is suspicious that his stay is no coincidence. Fred think he’s overreacting.
Much like last year’s brilliant THE INVITATION, Ahearne toys with his characters and the audience as if Marc and Fred should be hesitant about their stay or if it’s just paranoia. It’s fun to see both sides as Fred thinks it’s more sexually motivated and Paul might be connected somehow. There’s plenty of sexual tension between multiple characters and it makes the mystery aspect of the story even more exciting. It also helps that Alexie doesn’t speak English so his responses feel ambiguous and it’s difficult to decipher if he’s communicating threats or warnings.
B&B also taps into a moral aspect not just from being refused the right to sleep in the same bed with someone of the same sex, but that Fred almost wants to cause drama by coming back. Marc is completely against this idea but goes along with it. Throughout the film, both characters try to talk the other out of dangerous situations. While this could have easily fallen into what bigots refer to as a film with a “gay agenda,” Ahearne loves classic thrillers and that loves shines through in B&B. This film comes highly recommended as I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen and was anxious to see how everything would play out.