Joey Moser bids HBO’s Looking a fond farewell
Television isn’t always fair. Sometimes shows’ lives are cut short, and the audiences that follow them are left in the cold with no real solution for their favorite characters. Surely depression and despair follow. When HBO’s Looking was canceled back in early 2015, fans were devastated, but the creators knew they were going to end things with a finale special. There was no real need for petitioning online or any Gilmore Girls-esque gap/anticipation. Looking never delivered in the ratings department, but HBO knew that the fanbase could only be described as diehard and very devout. Looking: The Movie is made with obvious care and love of its characters. It succeeds in providing fans with exactly what they want in a proper farewell.
My personal problem with Looking was the role of Jonathan Groff’s Patrick, and it’s hard to get around not liking the central character. During the two seasons of the series, Patrick was always too whiny, doe-eyed, and self-conscious for me to fully appreciate his character. Nothing ever seemed enough for him, but he didn’t mind lending his own level headed advice or opinion to every situation he entered or heard about. Patrick was always too cautious for me.
Looking: The Movie begins with Patrick returning to San Francisco for Agustin and Eddie’s wedding–apparently you can come home again (as Groff rides in a taxi into the city, you can even see a poster or billboard in the distance that reads “home”) After his breakup with his boss, Kevin (Russell Tovey), Patrick moved to Denver and began working for a different video game development company. The movie kicks off with the group of friends visiting their old stomping grounds and having a blast before the big wedding day at the courthouse (complete with Tyne Daly cameo!)
As with all movie adaptations of television series, we have to check in with all the characters. Doris is reluctantly enjoying domesticity, Dom is beginning to enjoy his career, and Kevin is moving back to London with his boyfriend. You know, the one that Patrick pulled Kevin away from. There isn’t enough Daniel Franzese’s Eddie, but he wasn’t part of the initial group. The final goodbye scene between Kevin and Patrick (with raised voices and honesty in a coffee shop) is one of the best scenes between Groff and Tovey. There’s understood anger there mingled with a dull sadness.
When a show comes to a close (whether its exit is expected or not), a question lingers over the legacy and importance of it, and that question is: did the show take advantage of its own time? Did Looking get to tell the stories it wanted to tell? I’m tempted to say no, but that allows for the movie version to step it up in a real way. As I watched the movie, I felt a sort of sadness about it coming to a premature close. I didn’t get to spend enough with Dom, Richie, Agustin, Doris, and yes, even Patrick in the initial run–especially because I was late to the party.
Andrew Haigh (who co-wrote the screenplay and directed) allows the characters to talk and talk and talk in bars, down the streets, and in close quarters, and his direction is gentle and completely unforced. It’s almost as if he let the camera silently capture these friends talking but he didn’t want to let them know he was filming them. Looking might not have been perfect, but Looking: The Movie wants to give you the closure you deserve.