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The Independent Critic

Jeffrey Weber, MARS, Jordan Bayne
Stacey Maltin
13 Mins.

 Movie Review: Appetite 
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It was only a few months ago that I found myself surviving not one but two types of cancer, both bladder and prostate. I celebrate surviving, of course, but I have spent these past few months learning how live in this new body of mine as someone who now wears a urostomy and whose sexuality, or at least one whose ability to have sex, is for the most part now gone. 

I would love to say this was a dramatic shift for me. I would love to say that I was some sort of Casanova whose life was suddenly disrupted, however, it had been many years since I'd been in a relationship and I'd long teetered around the belief that I was, and I am, asexual. 

This is the first time I've put that in writing. 

I thought of all of this often while watching the short film Appetite, directed by Stacey Maltin and written by and co-starring MARS. The film centers around an aging hedge fund CEO, Jack (Jeffrey Weber), who hesitantly acquiesces when his wife of 25 years, Ruby (Jordan Bayne), suggests they check out an open love party. It's a seductive and stylish world in which Jack seemingly doesn't fit, however, as Ruby surrenders herself to it Jack finds himself surprised to uncover the intimacy he's long desired when he meets Tanya (MARS). 

I'm hesitant to give away any of the story that unfolds in the 13-minute Appetite, a little wonder of a film that beautifully captures the simple yet wondrous sensuality of presence and being and honesty and touch. Appetite doesn't go where you expect it to go. Appetite may not even go necessarily where you want it to go. In a world that so often emphasizes immediate satisfaction and sex as the answer to everything, Appetite dares to explore a world where intimacy isn't so easily defined nor limited. People are different and what we want, need, and crave is different. 

Jeffrey Weber is, quite simply, extraordinary as Jack. You instantly love him - not because of some weird sympathy, but you love him because you know he's giving you exactly who he is. It's an exquisite performance of rich humanity, surprisingly intimate and also quite spiritual. Truly sublime. 

The same is true for MARS, whose storytelling here is both intellectually satisfying and emotionally resonant. I believed wholeheartedly in where these two people went precisely because they were willing to show up in the moment and be vulnerable with one another. MARS's turn as Tanya is nonsexual, however, it's filled to the brim with sensuality and intimacy and connection. MARS writes with a natural humanity, a quality that was present even in the e-mail sent when submitting the film. It's quite remarkable and incredibly refreshing. 

Maltin, who directed MARS's last short Jones, beautifully crafts this film by embracing the magic of human connection and the myriad of ways in which we connect with and learn how to love one another. Appetite is an absolutely beautiful film to watch with lensing by Jodi Savitz that somehow both seduces and nurtures. Original music by Elizabeth P.W. masterfully captures the rhythms of every nuance within the film and Keriann Correia's production design created a safe space for one to step outside of one's comfort zone and into an entirely new yet wonderful world.

In these few months that I have been experiencing the incredible uniqueness of my new body, I have also begun to marvel, perhaps for the first time, at my own now 50+ year-old body that has survived spina bifida much longer than anyone ever expected, two leg amputations, and in the past year two types of cancer. 

And yet, in the end, I have learned we are always capable of love. 

Appetite celebrates this diverse tapestry of what it means to live, to love, to be intimate, and to be human in ways that are thoughtful, connecting, deeply moving, and wonderfully realized. If you get the chance, definitely check it out at a festival near you. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic