James (Emrhys Cooper) is a social media star living the high life in Trophy Boy, a 12-minute short film directed by Cooper that serves as an entertaining riches-to-rags story getting ready to hit the streaming markets after a successful festival run.
James is your typical "trophy boy," a ripped narcissist whose exploits are all the rage on Instagram and other social media sites as his hard to believe exploits make him a sought after influencer whose mere presence translates to a mighty good time for all.
When his much older, and much more affluent, boyfriend (Gerald McCullouch) dumps him, James is forced to face the facts that this world he's created is complete and utter bullshit and the future's not so looking bright for hottie with incredible tales to tell but no work experience to think of nowhere to turn other than his almost absurdly loyal friend, the sex-addicted Andy (Anthony Johnston).
It's not so easy to prove you don't really need anyone when you've always needed someone, and before long James has pretty much alienated everyone and everything in his entire world. Is James ever going to be someone actually worth following?
Does it really matter?
Trophy Boy hinges upon the performance of Emhrys Cooper and, quite fortunately, Cooper delivers in abundance with a turn that is simultaneously sexy, smarmy yet quietly charismatic in the best kind of way. You won't likely be able to identify much with James, but neither will you be completely and utterly repulsed by him. He's a rather likable chap even when everything he says and does isn't particularly likable.
The film also depends on just the right amount of heart, too much and it becomes artificially sweet and too little makes the film decidedly uninteresting to watch. Fortunately, Anthony Johnston's as Andy is spot-on perfect and infuses the film with an emotional undercurrent that adds meaning and depth to everything that unfolds.
Cooper and Johnston are utterly sublime together.
At 12 minutes, Trophy Boy is breezy entertainment that doesn't delve deeper than it can possibly truly explore. While the film thrusts itself inside the world ordinary pretty folks suddenly made extraordinary by the flip of a coin and the spotlight of social media, Trophy Boy is about James and not ultimately about that world where Kardashians become famous for being Kardashians and even the most irrelevant cable series can develop rabid, cultlike followings.
I mean, seriously, Mama June anyone?
While Trophy Boy is a U.K. made film, it feels tailor-made for the current state of American culture and even our <eye roll> political scene. The film is ultimately more effective because it feels so damn relevant while also being incredibly entertaining.
Benjamin J. Murray's lensing is splashy yet humane, while Christian Suau's editing work nicely transcends the film's modest production budget to tremendous effect.
Trophy Boy will finally be released to a wider audience after several months on the festival circuit with a target date of September 1 of this year. Watch for it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic