K-11 (Breaking Glass Pictures, NR)

k11 75There’s not much that’s realistic about K-11, but it’s not imaginative enough to be interesting, either.

 

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K-11 starts out promisingly, setting you up to expect a gritty prison drama from the perspective of Raymond Saxx (Goran Visnjic, that cute Dr. Luka Kovac from ER), an upscale music producer with a drug problem who unceremoniously finds himself not only in prison, but in section K-11, which is reserved for gay convicts. There’s another promising concept for a film—If gay prisoners were allowed to create their own society-within-a-society, what would it be like?—but K-11 quickly degenerates into a series of mixed messages and exploitative scenes. And, by the way, using female actors as M-to-F transsexuals didn’t work in Transamerica, and it doesn’t work here either.

Visnjic is the best actor in K-11, and I have the feeling that if he knew what the completed film was going to be like, he probably wouldn’t have gotten involved. Noted Mexican actress Kate del Castillo has a lot more fun as Mousey, the transsexual ruler of K-11, although her penchant for exaggeration makes her performance seem to take place in an entirely different plane of reality from that occupied by Raymond (who says he’s not gay, and takes a while to realize that that’s not his biggest problem right now).

What really got on my nerves in this film is the performance of D.B. Sweeney, who overacts every scene as a Hitler-like guard (little mustache and all) who likes power and drugs and forcing himself on prisoners—and apparently can get away with whatever he likes. The other prisoners are a mix of stereotypes, the most notable being Portia Doubleday’s Butterfly (another actress unsuccessfully playing am M-to-F transsexual), who is so delicate a flower that you wonder how anyone thought that putting her in with any group of male prisoners would be a good idea. Also memorable in a smaller role is Tommy Lister as Detroit, a brutal rapist who makes Butterfly his “wife.”

There’s not much that’s realistic about K-11, but it’s not imaginative enough to be interesting, either. In fact, it’s the bizarre shifting among tones (musical montages and brutal rapes and bonding scenes recalling summer camp) that makes K-11 really hard to watch. By the time you find out what Raymond is really in for, you’ve ceased caring, and that aspect of the film is handled as clumsily as the rest of it.

Extras on the DVD include a behind-the-scenes video that is more fun that the main film, four deleted scenes, interviews with cast members, a music video, a photo gallery, and the trailer. | Sarah Boslaugh

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