When Wayne’s (Nathaniel Chadwick) estranged father Al (Christian Aldo) dies, the struggling actor inherits his dad’s old rundown adult theatre. Wanting nothing to do with the establishment, which features tenant filled apartments above, Wayne’s plan is to sell property as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Al had a lot of loyal customers who need their daily fix of escapism. Reluctantly agreeing to reopen the theatre until it sells, Wayne is forced to confront the unresolved trauma that his father’s business and lifestyle caused.

Aptly dedicated to “dads,” Kire Paputts’ dark dramedy The Last Porno Show captures the damaging impact that fathers, even those with good intentions, can have on their sons. Using pornography as a metaphor for fractured family bonds, the film works best when embracing its murkier undertones.

Darker and more ambitious than Paputts’ previous film The Rainbow Kid, which followed a young man (Dylan Harman, who makes an appearance in this film) with Down Syndrome, The Last Porno Show is a journey of self-discovery. One where memory and the misguided sins of the father manifest in Wayne in unhealthy ways. As Wayne tries to embody his father’s essence, even going as far as wearing a fake moustache, it becomes painfully clear how skewed his image of masculinity is.

Never fully painting Al as the villain, Paputts captures the rich complexities of the father-son dynamics. While the disturbing moments are effective, it is the comedic beats, surprisingly enough, that cause the film to stumble at times. Aiming to generate shock rather than genuine laughs, the humour does not blend well with the disturbing aspects. Despite this, much like Wayne himself, The Last Porno Show finds acceptance and compassion at the end of its dark tunnel.

Screens:
Tuesday, September 10, Scotiabank, 9:00 PM
Thursday, September 12, Jackman Hall (AGO), 9:00 PM
Friday, September 13, Scotiabank, 3:30 PM

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