1998, NR, 102 min. Directed by John Huckert. Starring Ken Narasaki, Bob Hollander, K.D. Jones, Steve Andrews, Michael Waite, Charles Lanyer, Malcolm Moorman, Noel Palomaria.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 11, 2000

It's hard to know what to make of Huckert's directorial debut: It's part Cruising, part Silence of the Lambs, and part generic coming-out story, and though it tries mightily to subvert the conventions of modern gay cinema, too frequently it ends up aping the stereotypes that critics of the straight cinema found so dismaying to begin with. Palomaria plays Detective Raymond Vales, a closeted gay man who's just been given his detective's badge and entered the cloistered world of the LAPD upper echelons. Huckert and co-writer John Matkowsky parallel Vales' story with that of a gay serial killer, Jack (Moorman), who has driven into town looking (and acting) like The Hitcher's younger, nastier brother. As Vales struggles to conform to the rigidity of his new role and the mentoring of his new partner, Detective Tom Ellis, he also spends his (occasional) nights cruising the local bars and trying to pick up a date who won't discover he's a cop. This leads to some vaguely humorous scenes of Vale's surreptitiously “patting down” his prospective partners as they grind against him on the dance floor, and, at one point, he unknowingly brings home another semi-closeted cop from one town over. As the bodies from Jack's crime spree mount, Vales and his partner stake out the gay bars, until, unsurprisingly, the cop and the killer meet. Unfortunately for Vales, his instincts prove disastrously wrong and he ends up taking maniac Jack home with him, where the he promptly has his badge and gun stolen. At this point there's no way for him to remain closeted in front of his colleagues, and as he outs himself a flurry of predictably homophobic reactions ensue. And still the bodies mount. There's an interesting subplot concerning Jack's new “roommate,” a married sad sack named Andy (Waite), who allows himself to be used and abused for the sake of male companionship, but the rest of the story bogs down in unintentional clichés, godawful dialogue (as when the elder Ellis announces “Now comes the hardest part of our job,” as he prepares to knock on the door of a victim's mother), and generally insufficient plotting. To its credit, Hard doesn't, um, screw around when it comes to its depictions of gay sex -- the film is full of bareback, pillow biting free-for-alls, and handcuffs are clearly not for cops only. Still, raunchy sex isn't going to save Huckert's film from recurring bouts of silliness, and Movie of the Week dialogue that cornily espouses the whole “why can't we all just get along” school of tolerance. It's not impossible to sit through, but, yes, you guessed it, it's hard.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marc Savlov
The Marksman
Liam Neeson is the action man again in this border thriller

Jan. 15, 2021

Beautiful Something Left Behind
The hard path to healing when kids suffer a death in the family

Jan. 8, 2021


Hard, John Huckert, Ken Narasaki, Bob Hollander, K.D. Jones, Steve Andrews, Michael Waite, Charles Lanyer, Malcolm Moorman, Noel Palomaria

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle