rotting in the sundance

Jordan Firstman’s explicit new comedy shocks Sundance crowds with its un-simulated gay sex acts

Jordan Firstman (left), Sebastián Silva (right) | Image Credits: Getty Images

Park City, Utah is a very small mountain town. It’s also the home of Sundance, the country’s biggest and most well-regarded independent film festival. And, like in any small town, gossip gets around here fast.

So, it’s no surprise that, within our first 24 hours on the snow-covered streets of Park City, we had already heard word that the Jordan Firstman-starring comedy Rotting In The Sun featured male nudity and un-simulated sex acts—and that was before the movie even screened for audiences!

Sure enough, come premiere night, there was plenty more chatter about the fact that the movie does, indeed, feature tons of naked men and a handful of explicit sex scenes, many of which include Firstman, the gay actor and comedian known for his viral Instagram impressions.

We also heard that the movie was a funny, shocking, and thoughtful examination of modern, self-hating gay men. Naturally, we had to check it out for ourselves.

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Rotting In The Sun comes from gay Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva, a director who has made a name for himself with transgressive comedies like Nasty Baby and Tyrel. Here, Silva stars as himself, more or less—creatively unfulfilled and having suicidal ideations while living in Mexico City.

Image Credit: ‘Rotting In The Sun,’ Sundance Film Festival

Early on, Silva heads to the beach and wanders into a secluded enclave where gay men let it all hang out, not shy about hooking up with one another out in the open. It’s here, within the movie’s first 15 minutes, that the dick count rises significantly, the camera lingering on each one as they pass by Silva.

It’s also here that we meet Firstman’s character—playing “Jordan Firstman”—and he’s fully nude, too.

After an incident where both men nearly drown in the ocean, Firstman introduces himself to a still clearly shaken Silva, trying both to seduce the director and pitch him on a TV series based on the actor’s life. It’s all very meta, especially considering Rotting In The Sun‘s story (co-written by Pedro Peirano) was inspired by Firstman and Silva’s own chance encounter in Mexico. In the movie, just life in real life, the two didn’t like each other much at first.

It’s an incredibly bold role for Firstman, and not just because of a handful of scenes where he’s actually hooking up with dudes on camera. The character is abrasive and selfish and, just like the real guy, has become known for comedy videos on Instagram that have proven to be quite divisive, especially among the queer community. Silva even tells him how stupid his impressions are—yet another moment apparently inspired by their actual interactions.

Eventually, due to Firstman’s obnoxious persistence, Silva stumbles into a begrudging respect for the actor—or at least tolerates him—and their collaboration even yields some surprising success. But, not long after, the movie takes a surprising turn we won’t spoil here, shifting genres to a thriller, of sorts, while maintaining its dark sense of humor, and also ceding some of its spotlight to a third character: a housekeeper named Vero, played by Los Espookys‘ Catalina Saavedra.

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In the end, this riotous feature becomes something surprisingly emotional as it interrogates Firstman’s own persona, as well as class, cis gay male privilege, and the role the internet plays in our lives. It’s a much more complex movie than its “the one with all the male nudity” reputation lets on.

On that note, it remains unclear if and when audiences outside of Sundance will be able to see Rotting In The Sun—at least in this iteration. It’s hard to imagine a gay movie so explicit playing in theaters in this day and age, and even the most open-minded streaming platform may have some hesitations without editing around its most lurid scenes.

At this point, we don’t yet know what will become of Silva and Firstman’s provocative odyssey, but it’s a fascinating indie with a lot on its mind—and, yes, a lot of dicks—that we recommend keeping an eye out for.