First-time director Campbell X's "Stud Life" creates a compelling, if a tad uneven, narrative of two close friends who share everything from a studio apartment to joints to evading street hoodlums as they navigate the multi-racial and multi-gendered LGBTQ street scene. JJ (T'Nia Miller) is the fetching and winsome black butch "stud," while Seb (Kyle Treslove) is her white feminine gay best friend. They work as wedding photographers and dance the night away in London clubs; a dandy dealer named Smack Jack (Simon Savory), who has the hots for Seb, supplies their drugs.
When JJ meets the lusciously femme Elle (Robin Kerr), she predictably falls head over heels and starts to neglect her friendship with Seb. Seb has his own dramas to deal with, pursuing rough trade online with Manchester Joe and avoiding the advances of Smack Jack.
JJ uses YouTube videos to share monologues with the audience. This visual technique is reminiscent of an American film by another black lesbian director, Cheryl Dunye, called "The Watermelon Woman." But this device falls short here because it does not provide any insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings.
This film has a few rough scene transitions and only begins to scratch the surface of some themes of gay life, such as bashing, S&M, drugs, and risky sexual relationships. Even with some of its shortcomings though, it is worth a viewing for the social and romantic aspects it explores. There are no English subtitles, which would help in understanding some of the London slang.
Streaming Rental: $3.99
Download HD MP4 HD: $14.99
Length: 87 min.