Fire Island is a 2022 gay romantic comedy that centers Asian-American men and is streaming on Hulu. Director Andrew Ahn’s film is a lens to a subculture that is gaining visibility despite or maybe because of the right-wing mission to ostracize those who are not heterosexual.
Joel Kim Booster is the main character in Fire Island. He also wrote this entertaining and thought-provoking film.
Bowen Yang plays Booster’s best friend. He has a nice career, but alas is unable to find a mate to share his life.
In other words, Yang’s character is incomplete. This is a lonely way to live for most people regardless of their sexual orientation most of the time.
Enter Booster, who is also a comedian in real life, and as such has an infectious laugh. His dialogue and those of the other characters resonate with authenticity and vulnerability.
This is a potent mix of human qualities. Therein lies the film’s pull, in my opinion.
Booster’s character, one of many friends, or a house, in the film’s lexicon, resolves to find a match on Fire Island, a gay summer mecca, to complement his best friend. The film is a rom-com, so we know or should expect that the best of intentions between friends can have comedic consequences.
The film wrestles with issues of gay men looking for love in American society. In this respect, they are like heterosexual men searching for someone special.
Finding a compatible mate can be difficult. Using gay, bi, trans and queer online platforms such as Grindr, is an option. Virtual communication has limits.
There is of course an old-fashion way to connect with potential mates. Thus, face-to-face encounters, some funnier than others, are the meat and potatoes of Fire Island.
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The film is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, one of my favorite English authors and novels. She had a keen eye for the British landed gentry and gender relations at the close of the 18th century.
Back on Fire Island, the Booster and Yang characters confront classism and racism.
Classism, of course, is the glue that holds the system together in 2022. A minority of the population has income and wealth that the majority lacks. Politics reflects such economics.
Within the American majority, however, there are class divisions, no matter the sexual orientation. Fire Island delivers a glimpse at the class impacts on the Booster and Yang characters.
Since this is a rom-com, some of the characters’ assumptions about class are mistaken. Such errors can open the door to unexpected outcomes.
Racism against minority groups is part of the national fabric. The rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans after former Pres. Trump blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on China and the Chinese are a case in point.
To say that the white gay characters look down on their Asian-American counterparts is but a part of Fire Island. I will not reveal the other significant parts.
My main takeaway from Fire Island is that gay people travel different and similar paths to finding a life mate. Some have better fortune than other people do.
What makes Fire Island worth watching is its smart dialogue and characters, and an intriguing plot. If you are searching for a film that spurs belly laughs and deeper thoughts look no more.