By David-Elijah Nahmod
Welcome to Queerly Digital, a regular column about LGBTQ cinema on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming platforms.
Two attractive guys topline this charming low budget film about a married (to a woman) man who falls in love with another man. Doug Spearman's drama tells a good story while raising many questions about dating, relationships, and being true to oneself.
Jack (Scott Bailey) has all the appearances of a good life. He's got a great, high paying job, a large house, a beautiful wife who is herself a successful career woman, and two daughters who worship him. So what's the problem? Jack has been carrying a secret his entire life: he's attracted to men and doesn't want to be. But he can't help himself — at a birthday party he attends with his wife, Jack sneaks off with the cute young cater waiter for a quickie.
Pete (Darryl Stephens) on the other hand, is openly gay. He has a terrific apartment and job, as well as a lot of commitment issues. Pete usually gets involved with married men so he can avoid getting too close. When Jack and Pete meet, sparks fly.
They begin spending a lot of time together. Jack repeatedly lies to his wife about where he is and what he's doing with a little assistance from his best friend, who often covers for Jack. But the relationship between Jack and Pete, which is really a series of one night stands, fizzles out when Pete, weary of Jack's refusal to leave his wife, meets someone else just as Jack makes the decision to tell his wife the truth.
Will Jack ever embrace his sexuality and live as an out gay man? Will Pete ever resolve his commitment issues? And will Jack and Pete find their way back to each other?
From Zero to I Love You is an enormously likable film, due in part to its likable cast and characters. Pete and Jack might be a bit confused, about what they want, but they're genuinely nice guys. Likewise, Keili Lefkowitz as Karla, Jack's wife, who eventually finds out the truth about what her husband has been up to, is no jealous spouse. She's a nice woman who loves her husband and family, and when she realizes what's been going on with Jack, she's hurt but not vindictive. There's a scene in which Jack and Karla meet in a park after their divorce to talk, and while it's clear that they cannot stay together, it's obvious that they still care deeply for each other.
The film is a good example of how much the world and the gay community have changed. It's almost incidental that Pete is Black and that Jack is white. Race is never mentioned between them. They're just two guys who are attracted to each other, and race is a non-issue, though Pete does have a scene in which he wonders why he has no Black friends.
As Jack and Pete, both Bailey and Stephens offer convincing, low key performances. Bailey is particularly good as a man who doesn't want to hurt his wife and children but who cannot control his urges to be with men. He tells his therapist that he doesn't want to be gay, but as his feelings for Pete deepen he's forced to face the truth about himself. Stephens is equally convincing as a man who yearns to find love but cannot face his own intimacy issues. Through their love for each other Jack and Pete eventually come to terms with their issues and learn how to accept the love of another man.
The film was independently made and features well-shot location scenes which were filmed in Philadelphia. Though the pacing of the film is a little slow, From Zero to I Love You is still an enjoyable film and is worth checking out. It'll be interesting to see what Bailey, Stephens, and director Doug Spearman do next. They're a talented bunch and are worth keeping an eye on.
In addition to DVD, From Zero to I Love You is streaming on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.