In 'Lavender,' A Gay Man Finds Comfort, Complexity In Unconventional Relationship

Written by on May 15, 2019

Filmmaker Matthew Puccini says his new short film, “Lavender,” is aimed at shattering stereotypes regarding the legitimacy of polyamorous relationships, particularly as they exist within the LGBTQ community. 

The New York writer-director loosely based “Lavender,” which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January and was released online Wednesday by Fox Searchlight, on his own experiences. The roughly 10-minute film, available above, follows a young gay man named Andy (played by Michael Hsu Rosen), who finds himself seduced by a married couple, Arthur (Michael Urie) and Lucas (Ken Barnett). What begins as a casual hookup, however, soon evolves into a far more emotional and intimate situation between the three men. (Some scenes may not be suitable for work.)  

Puccini, 25, is no stranger to depicting modern elements of the queer experience. His 2017 film, “The Mess He Made,” recreated the routine, if stressful, process of getting tested for HIV. With “Lavender,” however, he wanted to portray “an unconventional relationship onscreen that felt tender and intimate” in a way he hadn’t seen before. 

“I think a lot of people still have the misconception that any relationship with more than two people involved isn’t sustainable or legitimate,” he told HuffPost. “I liked the idea of putting one onscreen that emphasized how meaningful and intimate it can be, rather than just the usual narrative of jealously or pure kink … it’s still sexy and still has challenges, but I think we captured something more nuanced and tender, too.” 

Michael Urie stars in Matthew Puccini's "Lavender" as Arthur, one half of a gay married couple.

Michael Urie stars in Matthew Puccini’s “Lavender” as Arthur, one half of a gay married couple.

In fleshing out the narrative, Puccini drew on his friendship with an older gay couple, as he’d been “very drawn to the maturity of their relationship and their lifestyle.” 

“It made me realize how badly I wanted those things and that I’d never really considered them for myself before,” he said.

Since its January premiere, “Lavender” has received ample critical praise, receiving Vimeo’s award for Best U.S Fiction and named one of Indiewire’s 10 must-see short films at Sundance. 

Currently at work on a new short, “Dirty,” as well as his debut feature, Puccini says he’d like to continue to emphasize LGBTQ themes in his future films.

“I love the idea of seeing more LGBTQ characters and stories being told in the genre space,” he said. “I’m personally craving a big-budget, super queer rom-com, and would love to see some horror films starring queer characters, too.” 


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