Two men on opposite sides of the law – a notorious outlaw and a principled deputy – can’t quite ignore their feelings for one another in the heartwarming Western comedy Black Knuckle and Deputy Maltese.
Deputy Maltese (Lane Compton) has mixed feelings when he learns that Black Knuckle (Gabriel Sousa) has been apprehended. A wanted thief, the most valuable asset Black Knuckle ever stole was the deputy’s heart. Still, Maltese can’t sit idly by with his lover behind bars. He lets Black Knuckle go, allowing himself to be tied up in the process to make it look like to proper escape.
Their parting is bittersweet, but thankfully won’t last long. Black Knuckle is soon captured by a band of even more dangerous outlaws. It’s up to Deputy Maltese – along with his badass, no-nonsense female sheriff (Kym Wilson) – to step up, ride out and go save the man he loves.
With a lightening-fast pace and game performances, Black Knuckle and Deputy Maltese plays out like a live-action cartoon. Director Jason Phillips and screenwriter Theo Poling have great fun upending American Western tropes in delightful ways. Using a diverse cast, playing characters who freely accept and encourage the gay ‘will-they-won’t-they’ romance unfolding before them, the film manages to be radically subversive in the most charming, easy-breezy, non-confrontational way possible. It’s just good, clean fun. The only downside is that, at just 14-minutes, you’ll wish it was a feature-length film.