Stone| Fruit is Director Brandon Krajewski’s first feature-length film, which he co-wrote with Robert Andrew Perez.
Krajewski spoke with Georgia Voice about the film Stone | Fruit, which follows Manny (Matt Palazzolo) and Russ (Rob Warner) as they celebrate their divorce with a weekend of wine tastings. Along the way, they are met by mutual friend Byron (Thomas Hobson) and come to terms with the end of their marriage. The film’s dialogue is bitingly witty, and the characters come alive with a compellingly human depth.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You were the director and the co-writer of the film. Could you begin by telling me about the writing process behind the two lead characters’ dialogue?
I had been wanting to write a film with my friend Robert Andrew Perez… we came up with a general concept after watching Andrew Haigh’s movie Weekend. We were also really inspired by Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy. We wanted to make a movie that kind of jumped ahead in terms of gay storytelling, gets past the marriage, and [looks at,] now, what happens when a gay marriage, a gay relationship, falls apart––because its short of been normalized now sense marriage equality passed.
Russ and Manny are in an interracial relationship, and there are moments when Russ, who is white, talks in a way that seems really insensitive to Manny, who is Polynesian. Could you talk about how this ends up effecting their relationship?
Well, Robert and I are both in interracial relationships ourselves, so we’ve had these conversations with our own partners…
I can only talk about race from my perspective, so it was good to have someone to counterbalance the writing on that. With Robert, he’s definitely aware of his white partner having certain kinds of privileges that he doesn’t have. As a white person, I just am really ignorant about those things, so having Robert there to bring that up in the interracial relationship between Manny and Russ, it felt really natural. We have those conversations, even Robert and I when we go out as friends, he will call me out on certain things…
[In terms of Russ’s being insensitive,] it’s something where Russ as a character is just stuck in his privilege, and it may be one of the few ways where he can try and hurt Manny.
I want to make it a point that Robert and I understand we should definitely talk about the dynamics of race in interracial relationships, but this is a movie about Manny and Russ, and race is a part of [the whole of their relationship]. I did not feel qualified to write an entire movie about the dynamics of interracial relationships. I wanted Robert to take the lead on it. I think it’s mentioned three times very acutely, and otherwise its underneath [the characters’] conversations. Three times felt like the right number of times to call people out on things without the whole movie becoming about racial politics.
The leads are very much foils, with Manny as the artist and Russ trying to talk like an art critic, could you talk about that?
I think it has to do with the intellectual elitism that certain people have. So, Russ himself is not really a creative person, but what he can do is destroy art through criticism. This is in no way my criticism of some critics, but I think especially when you’re in a relationship with someone who is a creative person and you’re not, you can really hurt them by being critical of their art. Art is personal for a lot of people––even when it’s something [that in the view of Russ’s character] is as silly as making plates. So I think when you don’t have that creative gene and are around other people who do it’s easy to dismiss, and just not be aware of how artists can take that personally, even though, again as an artist, you create something you know will be criticized. Everyone lives with these contradictions about art and criticizing art, and for someone like Russ who has a very analytical mind, if he can’t explain something or put it in a box, then it’s stupid or silly.
Without giving away any specifics, do you think it was a good ending for Manny and Russ?
The last scene you watch, the bar scene, we initially had the bonus scene in the credits immediately come after it, and people didn’t like that. It was pretty unanimous that they wanted us to end in the bar, not necessarily because it’s ambiguous, but because it just felt right… I think it really works that way. It’s a really nice moment watching two friends come to terms with something.