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The Graffiti Artist is Cinematic Art!
on July 6, 2005
James Bolton ('Eban and Charley') is emerging as a filmmaker of considerable note. As writer, producer and director of THE GRAFFITI ARTIST he is introducing a new realm of American verismo that is beautiful to watch, touching in content, and a creatively conceived film from beginning to end.
Portland, present time. Nick (a young Dutch actor Ruben Bansie-Snellman whose magnetism on the camera recalls the early James Dean) is a teenager who lives the solitary life, committed to his passion of tagging via graffiti art under the tag name 'Rupture'. He keeps journals of his drawings, photographs of his graffiti, and stays alive by shoplifting his tools of spray cans and his vegetarian diet foods. Always on the look out for police who arrest taggers, Nick is a man against the world. He is arrested for his art. Upon release Nick, by happenstance one day, meets a fellow tagger Jesse (Pepper Fajans) with whom he finally speaks (to this point there has been no dialogue from Nick) and follows around, sharing art and tagging. Jesse apparently has some money from his mother and is able to provide Nick with food and shelter. The two travel to Seattle to tag, create some truly beautiful grafitti art, and slowly bond to the point that Jesse invites Nick into his bed. What follows is one of the more sensuous yet understated same-sex scenes on film.
By morning Jesse already has conflicts with the evening's tryst: Nick appears serenely satisfied yet anxious about Jesse's response. They continue to tag, creating a new, partnered tag name 'Elusive'. Jesse eventually distances himself from the guarded Nick and leaves to return to Portland. Nick tries to maintain his lifestyle but is now living in the streets and tagging in dangerous places that result in run-ins with the law. But primarily because he misses Jesse, the only other person with whom he has bonded, Nick returns to Portland, leaving tag messages signed 'Rupture' wherever he sees Jesse's signature 'Flip'. At last Nick finds Jesse, and learns that Jesse doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Alone again, Nick's return to his solitary life and the way he deals with his dream is the may the story ends.
Though there is almost no dialogue in this film, Director Bolton capitalizes on the magnetism of his actors' body language and especially eye language and the result is simply stunning. Ruben Bansie-Snellman owns the screen and creates a character so heartrendingly simple in his complexity that he pulls us into his strange world of Nick every moment. The music score by Kid Loco and the cinematography by Sarah Levy enhance the dark mood of this piece. THE GRAFFITI ARTIST allows us to see this world as one cruel to those who don't 'fit' and makes a quiet, powerful statement about the lone individual in a landscape foreign in every way except in art. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 05