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Play The Devil

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday May 15, 2018
'Play The Devil'
'Play The Devil'  

The psychological thriller "Play the Devil" is set in Trinidad, a place where, with its patriarchal society, homosexuality is still closeted and is very much stigmatized. Therefore, this story about James, an older and very successful businessman (Gareth Jenkins) who befriends Gregory (Petrice Jones), an 18-year-old, dirt-poor student, and eventually seduces him, plays out as more of a melodrama than it would in other, more tolerant, cultures.

Gregory, an extremely handsome young man, accepts the sudden friendship, giving the impression that he has no inkling of James's intentions. But when their relationship turns physical one night, is is clear that the young man is not as innocent as he appears. The problem, however, is that the next morning he bitterly regrets having had sex, whereas James is totally hooked.

When a sullen Gregory goes out of his way to avoid any further contact with James, the older man turns up at the very modest shack that Gregory shares with his grandmother (Penelope Spencer). James ingratiates himself with Gregory's grandmother on the pretext of a link between his daughter and Gregory. The young man's shame, as he wrestles with his internalized homophobia, turns to real anger when James keeps showing up unannounced, spreading his largesse in hopes of winning the boy's affection.

Young British actor Jones, who is the only experienced member of a cast otherwise made up of local inhabitants, is clearly the best thing about this movie. With his heavily-accented patois (thank God for subtitles) he tries to reach out to both his best friend Dev (Akil Nickolas) and his church-going grandmother. Both of them see that he is distressed, but he cannot even hint at why. His struggle, however, is not just about his sexuality, but the expectations placed on him by everyone, including James, on forging a future that is better than the limited one of his family, who barely eke out a living.

"Play The Devil," set at the time of the local Carnival (hence the title), is the third movie from writer/director Maria Govan. The film has the advantage of being shot in the luscious setting of Trinidad's remote countryside.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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