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See This Tonight: The Adults in the Room at Reeling

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 8, 2010 8:20PM

2010_11_reeling_1.jpg If filmmaker Andrew Blubaugh ever decides to put down the camera, he might want to consider a career in tightrope-walking or mine-clearing. If his excellent debut feature is any indication, he has a knack for navigating treacherous terrain and emerging triumphant.

His film, The Adults in the Room, explores autobiography, coming-of age and teen sexuality, three subjects so fraught with the potential for both excess and cliched interpretation that they generally shouldn't be explored by anyone still cutting their teeth. Or rather, they should be explored, but we should not be forced to watch. In Blubaugh's hands, these elements get jostled around in such an assured and daring mix of narrative and documentary context that self-indulgence is kept at bay and the reflectiveness at its core is captivating.

The story begins with a retelling of the secret relationship a 15-year-old Blubaugh had with a very-closeted, very-much-older man. Interspersed with the telling of that chapter of his life, Blubaugh has added documentary and semi-documentary segments exploring his attempt to reconcile this story with his own difficulties in retelling it in a script and in a film. This hybrid form allows the story and the uncovered self-reflection to complement one another, and the ensemble never gets boring.

We are confident that The Adults in the Room would be one of our selections for Reeling even if it weren't going to be introduced by our own Rob Christopher (who will also be conducting a Q&A with the director after tonight's screening), but that certainly doesn't hurt.

The Adults in the Room screens tonight at 7 p.m. at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema as a part of Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival, the second oldest film festival in the US, which runs through Saturday, November 13, 2010. Tickets are $10 ($8 members).