In 1980, William Friedkin released CRUISING starring Al Pacino, already a bankable film star thanks to THE GODFATHER:PART 1 & 2 and DOG DAY AFTERNOON.
Reactions upon release were overwhelmingly negative, and it was no secret that Friedkin had to cut 40 minutes of footage—all shot in NYC leather and S&M bars—to expunge the MPAA’s original X-rating. Friedkin has admitted that the footage contained graphic sexuality, and United Artists has asserted the footage is no longer in their possession.
Cut to 2012.
Exterior. San Francisco. James Franco contacts Travis Mathews in regards to a project related to Friedkin’s CRUISING. That project becomes INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR., and the two men ostensibly set out to recreate the lost 40 minutes. What follows is less about graphic sexuality than it is about questioning the normalization of gay intimacy and sexual activity. Part behind the scenes, part documentary about the process of filmmaking, and part sexually explicit art film, INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR. offers no simple answers.
The Franco-Mathews co-directed film-within-a-film stars longtime Franco friend, Val Lauren in the role of Pacino’s character from CRUISING Initially unsure what the project is about but fiercely loyal to his friend, Lauren gradually comes to a sort of understanding, even defending the project to others. Whether or not the audience will understand the directors’ vision is uniquely suited to the audience members. Regardless, the film is a fascinating meditation on gay male sexuality and the freedom of sexual expression. – Elisa McGovern
THIS FILM IS NOT RATED AND CONTAINS SCENES OF EXPLICIT SEX NO ONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS ADMITTED