I’ll Love You Forever…Tonight: Edgar Michael Bravo’s Tale of Ennui in Gay L.A.

I Love You Forever…Tonight is an uncompelling exploration of ennui in the contemporary gay scene in Los Angeles.

Yet considering it’s a UCLA graduation thesis, the film may serve as a calling card for writer-director Edgar Michael Bravo, who demonstrates greater talent in evoking mood and texture than in rendering a poignant tale.

The first scene, set in a Los Angeles bar, features a typical beginning of many gay films: a quick pick-up followed by impersonal sex. But this scene also sets the tone for a work that aspires to examine the inner emotional states of five young gay men, whose lives seem aimless and unfocused.

The protagonist, Ethan (Paul Marius), is a handsome photographer who frequents the bar, deluding himself that he has no need for love or commitment. Emotionally scarred by a childhood trauma that involved incest, it soon becomes clear that Marius needs to come to terms with himself and with his abusive father.

The film’s melodramatic centerpiece revolves around a trip to Palm Springs that Marius’s friend Dennis (Jason Adams) engineers as a manipulative scheme to get Marius back to his ex-lover Peter (David Poynter) so that he could get Poynter’s current lover for himself.

Bravo’s writing is trite and his dialogue cluttered with repetitive muttering on the order of “I have to figure things out,” or “things will be all right.” The brooding, disenchanted men exchange one too many pregnant looks that are supposed to be meaningful. There are also too many silent moments and close-ups of Marius, a rather bland actor whose face is not particularly expressive.

With the exception of Marius, the other men remain representatives of different lifestyles rather than distinguishable individual characters. Even more problematic is the link that Bravo proposes, but never convincingly explains, between Marius’ incestuous experience and his current emotional malaise–and possibly his homosexuality.

Bravo’s claim that his work is the first gay feature by a Latino may be true, but it is not especially significant, as the men he depicts are white and the P.O.V. is uninformed by a specific ethnic sensibility. Still, as helmer Bravo shows facility in staging realistic scenes and establishing the appropriate ambience for his story.

I’ll Love You Forever…Tonight is more impressive technically than narratively. Jeff Crum’s stylized black and white cinematography provides an interesting tension with the more naturalistic conversation. The film’s most recurrent and effective visual motif is an overhead shot of a congested L.A. freeway, which punctuates the narrative and forcefully conveys the anomie of its characters.