The Power of Two – A Review of ‘Glitter & Doom’

"Glitter + Doom." Photo courtesy of Reel Q.

Glitter (Alex Diaz), an amateur circus clown, meets Doom (Alan Cammish), a sad sack musician and the duo falls in love in the stylistic musical, “Glitter & Doom.” The film will premiere in Pittsburgh on Sunday, October 8 at 9 PM at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville as part of the Reel Q Film Festival.

“Glitter & Doom” is a boy-meets-boy movie musical set to the songbook of the Indigo Girls. The iconic indie rock duo makes cameo appearances as the Doctor (Amy Ray) and the Dream (Indigo Girl, Emily Sailers). It’s never explained why everyone in “Glitter & Doom” has Neil Gaiman-inspired aliases, because the only superpower in the story is love. The unusual names, however, make it easier to keep track of who’s who.

Director Tom Gustafson filmed the movie in Mexico City, but this love story takes place in a mythical Bohemia, a punk pleasure dome wherein everyone breaks into song and dance whenever they feel so moved.

No real villain exists in the movie musical, but both boys struggle with their inner demons. The differences between the two protagonists are vast. Both of them have mommy issues. Glitter doesn’t want the family business, a large, generic corporation. Instead, he wants to run away to Paris to be a circus clown, but he’s afraid to tell his mother, Ivy (Pittsburgh native, Ming-Na Wen). Whereas Doom picks up his mother, Robin (Missy Pyle), after she finishes her sentence in an unnamed correctional facility.

Doom is embarrassed by his situation. He’s a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks. The melancholy causes him to write gloomy dirges that don’t impress his audience, hence the appellation Doom. Glitter has, apparently, oodles of disposable income, Doom does not, and it’s an additional source of tension between them.

The two decide to leave their troubles at home and head for the mountains. They “Get Out the Map,” and pick a secluded location in the wilderness, a place to connect. When the duo goes camping, tents will rise (literally and figuratively). Diaz and Cammish have glorious chemistry together. The scenes when they are off together alone, talking in the forest, are the best in the film.

There are a few unresolved plotlines (sequel bait?). Ivy is shopping for a prosthetic eyeball, because, for some unknown reason, she’s wearing an eyepatch like a pirate. Maybe she lost the eye fighting Rouran warriors in China, Hydra agents, or Imperial Stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Doom’s mom, Robin, talks about getting married, but it’s sort of a George Glass Scenario; no fiancé ever rears his handsome, young head (the alleged boyfriend is said to be the same age as her son). We never find out what Glitter plans to do with his clown college degree, but none of it matters. Only love matters and love is, and always should be, enough.

Aside from the Indigo Girls themselves, the film is populated with cameos. The Easter Eggs are delightfully dropped throughout the movie, enough to make you shout Wonder Woman’s slogan, “Suffering Sappho!” Lea DeLaria (oozingly sarcastic) plays Boston, owner of the nightclub, the Fountain, where Doom seeks his fame. Tig Notaro (in a bizarre French accent) plays Fiasco, the demanding, ironically no-nonsense, instructor at a Parisien clown college. There are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances by Kate Pierson of The B-52s, “Drag Racealum Peppermint, and Broadway star Beth Malone (the original Allison from “Fun Home”).

“Glitter & Doom” is infused with music from the aforementioned Doctor and the Dream (the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Sailers, respectively). The folk-rock duo’s tunes are remixed, mashed up, and repurposed, but they are all gloriously rendered. While the song choices are lovely, there are so many more songs in the duo’s songbook (more than fifteen albums to date). It’s best to sit back and enjoy the ride and not anticipate the cords or lyrics of the next song.

Editorial note: “Get Out the Map,” one of this reviewer’s favorite songs (and “Shaming of the Sun” one of his favorite albums), is prominently featured. The song shows up in a myriad of ways throughout the film and it may have positively influenced this review. The music of the Indigo Girls is so joyous that it’s hard not to be infected with their folk-rock anthems.

Screenwriter Cory Krueckeberg (“Were the World Mine,” “Getting Go, the Go Doc Project”) finds a gorgeous hook for a gay romance. Gustafson and Krueckeberg are frequent collaborators, and their strength is in their style. Every frame of the film could be framed and mounted in an art gallery. “Glitter & Doom” is more style than substance, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

“Glitter & Doom” premieres in Pittsburgh on October 8 at 9:00 PM at the Row House Cinema, 4115 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201-3172. For more information on the movie or any movie in the Reel Q Film Festival, click below.

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)