Review: Trans Drama 'Death And Bowling' a Love, and Family, Affair

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday April 2, 2022

'Death And Bowling'
'Death And Bowling'  (Source:T4T Productions)

Lyle Kash's hourlong film "Love and Bowling" is a cinematic poem to loss, belonging, family, and acceptance.

When Susan (Faith Eileen Bryan) determines, upon turning 75, that she's ready to leave this world, her friend in the Lavender League — to which she is team captain — wish her well, even if they don't understand her decision. Susan's unofficially adopted son, X (Will Krisanda), from whose vantage we see the story unfold, is devastated at the loss, as are the rest of Susan's family, including her partner Arnie (Denise Turkan) and Arnie's son, Gio (D'Lo).

But then someone new and unfamiliar enters the picture. Saying he's "just in town for the funeral," Alex (Tracy Kowalski) — Susan's son, assigned male at birth and rejected by Susan for embracing his male identity — strikes instant sparks with X, some of them erotic and others born of rivalry. X's grief is compounded by his conflicted feelings, which are made all the deeper by the fact that X, too, is a trans man... something Susan never had a problem with.

"It's different when you're family," Alex says. That's not much of an explanation, but it's probably as true and complete as anyone could offer.

The cruelest blow of all comes from beyond the grave, when Susan deadnames Alex in her will. It's the setup for a moment, later on, when X and Alex discover an unopened letter addressed to Alex — a missive that holds the key to resolution and forgiveness.

More enigmatic, though, is the map Susan left behind showing where she wanted her ashes to be scattered. The crude drawing indicates a spot in the California desert; what will X, Alex, Gio, Arnie, and the Lavender League find once they get there?

Atmospheric and touching, "Death and Bowling" is a moody and yet uplifting meditation on life's many paradoxes. It also has an appealing cast; Krisanda's rockabilly-esque costuming makes him look like some sort of Rebel without an Era, but his dark hair, soulful eyes, and leather jacket, together with his screen charisma, make it impossible to look away... except, maybe, when Kowalski shares the screen. Sturdy and hot-daddy handsome, he's a perfect counterweight to Krisanda.

Sure to be a festival favorite, "Death and Bowling" deserves a spot on your scorecard.

"Death and Bowling" is a Spotlight selection at Wicked Queer: The Boston LGTBQ Film Festival. The film screens April 15. For more information, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.