DVD Review – Stud Life3 min read
Stud Life is Campbell X’s first feature film. It takes a dramatic and comical look at the life of urbanites in South London. Drugs, Homophobia, and Prostitution abound in this tale of love and relationships which are being continually redefined in the ever-shifting sands of modern living and societal change. So, what’s the story?
JJ (T’Nia Miller) is a ‘Stud’; a masculine lesbian woman who has a soft spot for femmes (non-masculine women). JJ’s best friend is Seb (Kyle Treslove), a gay pretty boy. Together they operate a photography business by day and party by night. Closely bonded through shared separatism from mainstream ‘normal’ society, the pair are effectively soul mates; that is until their friendship is tested with the arrival of Elle (Robyn Kerr), the femme, who captures JJ’s heart but turns her world upside down. Seb and Elle do not exactly see eye to eye, in fact Seb fully believes that Elle is ‘bad news’. JJ and Seb’s relationship is pushed to breaking point, and JJ herself is pushed to breaking point when she discovers some revelations about Elle’s private life.
Amongst all this, Seb’s sexual preference for ‘rough’ men, forces him to actively withdraw from young sophisticate drug dealer admirer Smack Jack. Is it too late for Seb to experience real love?
Fundamentally Stud Life’s keen liberal ideology should be applauded as Campbell X, through JJ’s lens, offers a non-judgemental peek into many diverse forms of human bondage; sub-groups of LGBT society are allowed to proliferate which gives resonance to Campbell X’s enquiring eye as to the nature and dynamics of relationships in the context of contemporary society – it’s interesting to see JJ and Seb’s reactions to what they perceive as ‘alternative’ arrangements; Stud Life’s deft perception of interpersonal relationships being on a continuum is wonderful to behold as it perfectly captures the relativity of individual perceptions, and in so doing wisely observes that notions of tolerance and intolerance are intrinsic to society, regardless of social group, sexual preference, race, class etc – fundamentally we are all both the perpetrator and the victim. This has a refreshingly humanising effect, which serves as perhaps the strongest argument for equality that exists in film – the argument that we are all prone to the same societal flaws.
Stud Life is of course not a perfect film. As with so many low-budget projects it suffers from a general lack of sophistication which mars the experience slightly. The narrative flow is occasionally blighted by plotting points that seem insincere, possibly as a result of ideas being underexplored and sometimes the cast’s lack of experience shows. However this is not to say that performances are bad, T’Nia Miller in particular is brilliantly cast and delivers a fine performance. There are many moments where her ability to deliver a hugely powerful emotive performance shines; One scene in particular that includes a violent confrontation between JJ and Elle is especially raw and impactful.
Overall the moments where the film jars do not detract from its fundamental strengths, primarily, as mentioned, it’s intelligent portrayal of society through a ‘minority’s’ eyes. The messages of the film stand clearly on their own merit. Basically, a few unpolished moments notwithstanding, Stud Life is a hugely enjoyable film.
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