We’ve all heard the saying “be gay, do crimes,” but THE ESTATE ups the ante in asking just how far you would go to get what you want.
Directed by James Kapner, THE ESTATE follows George (Chris Baker) and Lux (Eliza Coupe), the son and second wife of Marcello (Eric Roberts), respectively. When Marcello refuses to give the two the wealth they feel they deserve, their luck turns in befriending (and seducing) Joe (Greg Finley), a hitman willing to kill the old man and secure his fortune.
THE ESTATE is deliciously cheesy in that you know it’s bad for you, but you can’t pull your eyes away. The sex triangle that unfolds is only half of the story, as George and Lux find that there’s more standing in the way of the money than just one person. With lust and betrayal galore, no moments are spared any of the drama.
At the end of the day, however, THE ESTATE, is a little too much to swallow wholeheartedly. THE ESTATE is unapologetically gay, but disappointingly mainstream in other aspects. It’s ignorable depending on the viewer, but THE ESTATE prompts questions like, why was one of the victims made a sex worker? Was it necessary for the one person of color (and that, a Black man) to die?
This could be a commentary on how privileged the characters are: even though Lux and George feel wronged by Marcello, they still live in one of his luxurious houses. “Jokes” like passing racist quips and ableist slurs blur the line between making fun of the characters for being ignorant and actually being the mouthpiece of the movie. Another comedic line, “What are you, trans now?” feels super out-of-place, given that it’s literally a one-off with no other reference.
THE ESTATE hits the jackpot when it discusses homophobia, letting the narcissistic George take time to self-reflect. It feels so genuine when everything else going on feels so played up. Unfortunately, these moments are too few to pull the movie back from the loudmouth brand it’s committed to.
THE ESTATE is trashy and indulgent, with Coupe giving Cameron Diaz vibes and Baker killing his role as a gay murderer who won’t let other people slow him down. It’s absurd and it’s campy, but it’s going to be up to each viewer’s tastes to decide if that’s in good fun, or if it leans too hard into not caring what other people think.
THE ESTATE had its virtual world premiere at the 2020 Newport Beach Film Festival.