Author(s): James Somerton
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Christine Vachon
Zac Efron as Sean Lockhart
Marc Wahlberg as Bryan Kocis
Felicity Huffman as Carol Lockhart
Mario Cimarro as Victor Deseo
Tagline: "Everything. On A Silver Platter. Now Look Closer"
Synopsis: Hi, I'm Sean. When I turned sixteen I decided to move to California to be with my mother, Carol. She kept saying how bad she missed me and I sort of felt guilty. I dont really know why though because she left me. Anyway, I moved there so I could get into film. What better way to break into the film industry than to live a half hour outside Hollywood, right? Yeah I thought so too. We're both wrong.
As it turns out, my mother wasn't exactly the maternal type. She wasn't a drug addict or an alcoholic or anything like that, mind you. Wouldn't that be nice and stereotypical? No, she was just a little... neglectful. At first she was so happy to have me around and then it all went away. Like the novelty of having a son wore off. I was only sixteen though so I needed some structure in my life, and living so close to the gay mecca of West Hollywood have me the chance. I was young and cute, all the older guys loved me. One, named Victor, basically took me in. I was at his house more than my own and my mother basically handed me over to him. But that was Ok. I was in love. He said he loved me too. He also loved the money I could make him.
He starts talking about me doing porn one day. He made it sound so glamorous. What did I know? I was just a kid. We got a fake ID made and he started sending pictures of me to porn producers. One, named Bryan Kocis, ran a small company called Cobra Video and I totally fit the bill for what he wanted. The only stipulation was that Victor be in the movie too. Victor was no beauty queen, but I guess I made up for it.
I shot five movies for Cobra Video. Three of them while I was still under the age of eighteen. Bryan eventually found out that I was underage but he didn't much care. We'd both keep quiet and everything would be Ok. I moved in with Bryan about a year after starting to work for him and thats when it all went to hell. Possessive and Abusive; I had to be his little play thing. We had a big falling out and I ended up back living with Carol. Then, suddenly, three of my movies were being pulled from the shelves and there were police at our door. My mother played dumb of course. I was eighteen and in big BIG trouble. Things couldn't have possibly gotten worse... Who knew?
The case against Bryan Kocis was still going two years later. Red tape had tied up the proceeding so many times that I had stopped caring. Then I got the news. Bryan was dead. Stabbed twenty-eight times. And I was a suspect.
What the Press would say:
Zac Efron steps out of the teen idol mold and into the shoes of Sean Lockhart; underage gay porn sensation. "COBRA" is the story of Lockhart's rise to fame in the adult world. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this film fallows Lockhart from the obscurity of a shy gay teen, to the horrible realizations of a maturing young man. Based on the actual events surrounding this young man's formative years, we are given a glimpse into the mind of a smart and clever boy who has just had a bad hand dealt him. No matter how smart he is, his yearning for love (of any kind) drives him to make the wrong decisions. The story is clear of the porno cliches of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and forced morality. And because of this we get to see a different side of what goes on. A side that is (mostly) innocent of any crime.
Efron's performance is a revelation in this film. Known for his more teen oriented rolls, he quickly finds himself in Sean Lockhart. Within the first twenty minutes I had forgotten I was watching Zac Efron. The first bit of the movie is almost entirely him and his narration. We quickly get to know Lockhart on a very personal level. Zac Efron's voice leads us through the first years of his life, eventually leading up to moving in with his mother in California. At this point, the narration becomes sparse and events begin to happen in real time. Everything leads up to the shocking murder of Bryan Kocis, played by Marc Wahlberg. Wahlberg gives an amazing performance as the often charming Kocis. We feel duped as an audience when Kocis, who is so likable at first, shows his true colors. His kind and comforting words turn to vicious jabs that leave Sean yearning for the days when he was alone with his indifferent mother. His mother, played to perfection by felicity Huffman, isn't the hateful mother you might expect in this kind of movie. She doesn't hate her son, she just doesn't care about him. He's more of a nuisance to her than anything else. Mentally she may be below Sean's maturity level, and this shows in one or two scenes. She returns after a long absence near the end of the movie and seems to have matured but the facade is quickly dropped when Sean is left alone on the steps of a courthouse. An extremely powerful image of this young man left on the steps of a great, and massive, building. A small boy in a big world, left to fend for himself.
The cast drives the film but Gus Van Sant's direction sets the mood perfectly. By allowing us to get to know almost all the characters, we're completely drawn into the world through Sean's eyes. There are no flaws in what he sees to be perfect until they are so obvious that they simply cannot be ignored any longer. Contrast is Van Sant's biggest tool in this film. California is almost idilic at first, with palm trees and a blue ocean. But soon enough we get to see the darker side of what goes on on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. The film grows progressively darker in tone until it seems Sean may be trapped forever by his own mistakes. And then, in a shockingly brutal scene, Bryan is murdered and the audience is left drained. The film quickly ends after that, with little resolution. We dont know who killed him, or why they did it because that is not what this particular story is about.
This is a story of youth's destruction. Being forced to grow up too soon and falling into the traps that this creates for young people. Promises of wealth and fame are not what Sean Lockhart was given. But promises of acceptance and love. In the end he is left with little more than himself. Although he has become famous in the porn world, Lockhart has not been accepted by it. He is left alone in the end to pick up the pieces on his own. To rebuild. That is the message of hope in this film. A hope in one's self. A sort of twisted hope that shows that you can't count on anyone but yourself and, in the end, maybe thats for the best.
Best Director - Gus Van Sant
Best Actor - Zac Efron
Best Supporting Actor - Marc Wahlberg
Best Supporting Actress - Felicity Huffman
Best Original Screenplay