“Rialto” is a quiet, ruminative drama about a middle-aged man, comfortable but unfulfilled in his employment and family life, who pursued a clandestine relationship with a young male prostitute who physically and psychologically dominates him, and finds himself falling in love with the younger man against his will. There’s not much else to it in terms of plot or narrative, but boy is this a well-made character study. Lead Tom Vaughn-Lawlor is so painfully believable as Colm that it’s downright excruciating to watch his gradual downward spiral: His emotional pleas and growing confusion feel so electrifyingly, tragically real, and his tentative connection with co-star Tom Glynn-Carney so potent and needy that Vaughn-Lawlor positively disappears into the role and delivers a one-man tour-de-force performance that should have attracted more awards attention. Onscreen wife Monica Dolan also delivers a towering performance, bringing warmth and unconditional love to the table but rewarded with dismissal time and time again, with her heartbreak registering as all-too-real each time. The movie’s power is helped a great deal by its economical running time, managing to tell an impressively layered story with no histrionics and without wearing out its welcome.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)