San Francisco’s Castro District is known for its historical importance in the LGBTQ community, most famously for the election of Harvey Milk as the first openly gay elected official in California’s history. The Castro is used quite differently in the new independent comedy “Bathrooms Stalls & Parking Lots.”
Coming from Brazil, Leo (the film’s writer/director Thales Correa) arrives in San Francisco’s Castro District to meet a man he has been in contact with. Leo connects with his close friend Donnie (Izzy Palazzini) and his straight friend Hunter (Oscar Mansky) and the three men embark on a night long journey through the streets and clubs of The Castro, each encounter fueled by cocaine, neurotic mishaps, and the ongoing promise/hope of a hook-up.
I wish there was more to say about the film’s plot but that’s all there is. Where the film succeeds (if only slightly) is in its exploration of the nature of romantic and sexual relationships in gay communities, with occasional nuggets of honesty and hints at a deeper meaning to it all. Sadly, the dialogue and performances never fully ground the film.
Thales Correa is much too bland as Leo and Oscar Mansky tries his best to make Hunter more than his character’s “just be yourself and you will find Mr. Right” speeches.
It is only Izzy Palazzini who’s able to bring honesty to his portrayal of his character, namely, Donnie. This could’ve been a cliched portrayal, but the actor cuts to the heart of man who has become lost in recreational drug use and sexual escapades, desperately needing to hold on to his friendships.
Correa has something to say regarding how the age of dating apps has soured the world of social and sexual relationships and has made it all too easy (yet still rife with complications) to simply hook up.
The director brings this across in a few solid scenes where Leo, Donnie, and Hunter have slightly comical misadventures that cause them to be thrown out of a club, break into a parking garage, and to ruin a potential mini-orgy. All of these moments come about due to their near-relentless pursuit of a night’s fun.
“Bathroom Stalls and Parking Lots” is far from perfect and doesn’t achieve its tacit goal of being a comedic commentary on gay dating in 2019, but it does have some engaging moments and one or two heartfelt scenes that help to carry it along.