Reflections on a May/December Romance
'The Adults in the Room'
Andy Blubaugh is a multitasker. Talking to me from a classroom in Portland, Ore., where he teaches film production to teenagers, Blubaugh watches over his charges while discussing his narrative/autobiography/documentary hybrid of a film. Unlike The Adults in the Room, the conversation is a failure. The gang of young adults proves too distracting, and the interview is cut short.
The narrative portion of Blubaugh's first feature tells a semiautobiographical tale of a teenage Andy engaging in a romantic relationship with Peter, a man nearly twice his age. The depiction of Peter is not villainous, and therein lies the tension of the documentary portions of the film, which show Blubaugh's personal struggles with the subject matter. Issues are further complicated by the filmmaker's current career teaching teenage boys and girls. "It was hard to find a hosting organization because there's just a panic about the topic, no matter how removed it was. It seemed to infect everything," says Blubaugh. The real-life "Peter" is consulted in an attempt to better understand his motivations in having a relationship with someone who was so glaringly his minor.
Much of the film's experimentation arises from Blubaugh's thesis-before-conclusion filming style. As present-day Andy works through his issues concerning the lasting effects of his youthful romance, the effect on the film's direction is often obvious. The final scenes reveal Peter's apparent displeasure with the film, but by that point the cathartic creative experiment has snowballed into something unstoppable. Even though questions remain for the viewer, the filmmaker gets some sense of closure as Blubaugh ultimately decides when a conclusion has been reached and when to roll the credits.
With his class beckoning and requests for updates on Peter since filming concluded, Blubaugh insists, "That really is the end of the story."
The Adults in the Room screens Thursday, Sept. 9, 9:15pm.