- This essay will inevitably contain spoilers!


- An essay by Richard Harrison (2005)

An abridged version of this article first appeared in the February 2008 issue of SCOPE- The Online Journal of Film Studies

The tragically premature death of Andre Noble on 30th July 2004 did not exactly set the cinematic woods on fire. The celluloid world, though, has always been used to the varied nature of star destinies- those who die young, those who live long and those who, as Neil Young- a Canadian like Noble- would say, simply fade away. That Andre Noble was not allowed to either grow old or fade away is something to be deeply lamented, a reminder that being young does not render you immortal from the very arbitrariness of death.

Of those who have passed on before their time, some died a Hollywood style death- a car accident, a shooting, or, if you were Peg Entwistle, the ultimate cinematic suicide- a jump from the famous ‘Hollywood’sign in the California hills. Andre Noble’s short life did not end in any of these dramatic ways, but resulted from aconitine poisoning from ingesting the sap of monkshood, a deadly wild flower, in Newfoundland, very close to where he was raised. He was just 25 years old.

Like James Dean almost 50 years earlier, Andre Noble was an actor struck down in the very budding flower of youth. Also like Dean, posterity has given us a final film that will define Andre Noble, encourage conjecture about his future and assure him of cinematic immortality. Like Peter Pan, Andre Noble will not grow old. He will not look haggard and age-worn, suffer the ignominy of drug busts, the tabloid interest in failed relationships or be forced to accept bit parts in mediocre films starring the current Hollywood young blood. Andre Noble’s performance in Sugar (the final film role per se before his death) will be how he is remembered, not just playing a character but living it- his ardent sincerity proving a compelling reminder of not only how powerful a medium film can be, but also reminding the audience of his beauty, now destined to shine forever in Eternity.

A powerful film that, once seen, is not forgotten, Sugar was originally shot on Mini-DV and directed by John Palmer (whose only other film as director, Me, was made back in 1975). The title 'Sugar' connotes a paradox of sweetness and addiction, all too apt when the film as a whole is considered, for it presents an unusual take on both the ‘teen film’and its sub-generic offspring as well as a wider consideration of cinematic spectatorship in the turmoil of the relationships undergone by its characters.

In Sugar, Andre Noble plays Cliff, a teenager on the verge of manhood who is still trying to discover who he really is. Interestingly, Noble was 24 when Sugar started filming, the same age as James Dean when he starred in Rebel Without A Cause, also significantly older in real-life than his on-screen character, in Dean’s case Jim Stark).

The opening credits present roughly cut paper snippets of the cast list with a background of black and white images of body parts of both sexes accompanied by electronic music. The first live action we see is a heterosexual couple sitting under a tree. They are kissing eagerly- that they are in close up prevents us from situating them in the film’s context, for it would perhaps normally be assumed that the couple will play some part in the film that is to follow. The fact that they do not sets up the way Sugar plays with traditional notions of film spectatorship. The credits also introduce the two actors who will be, ultimately, the protagonists of Sugar: Brendan Fehr (accompanied by his arm with the ‘J.D.’tattoo facing the camera) and Andre Noble (accompanied by his shirtless torso in reclining position). Thus, we already have a superficial introduction to our two leads which situates our spectatorship in regard to their representation, a facet Sugar plays with throughout.

The heterosexual couple’s kissing continues, and it is revealed that they are being watched by Cliff (and, by extension, us, the audience, in an act of voyeurism). Our first view of Cliff himself is an unconventional one, the camera positioned just behind his right shoulder as he watches the couple kiss. As he watches, Cliff sucks on a strand of what appears to be liquorice, and the music becomes slower, its gentle rhythmical thudding being akin to a heartbeat as the sensuality of the moment is heightened by a shot change to a sideways close up of Cliff’s provocative sucking. Then, as the ‘heartbeats’continue, Palmer changes the shot once more and we see Cliff pleasuring himself in long shot before the director’s name appears with the same font and background as before. This complex introduction to the film does a number of things, but its main purpose is to introduce us to Cliff whilst confronting the issue of film spectatorship and generic expectations which are effectively challenged in Sugar as a whole.

The film proper opens at Cliff’s 18th birthday party, his innocent domesticity being symbolised by the candles on his cake, his desire to ‘wash his hands’before eating, and the presence of his close (but fatherless) family: Mother, Gran and precocious sister Cookie. The family is not, however, at home, but in a restaurant. Thus, the initial framing of the group includes a woman in the foreground who is not with them but happens to be there- a precursor of the documentary-like style the film draws on throughout.

Cliff's family is visually introduced in a highly effective manner- Madge (Cliff’s Mother) is wearing a pointed party hat and determined to make a success of the occasion; Gran wears a bright orange top and a look of proud optimism; Cookie looks like any other young girl as she grabs a brightly decorated gingerbread rabbit shouting the one word ‘sugar!’(referencing back to the film’s title in her yearn for its addictive sweetness) whereas Cliff himself looks embarrassed and withdrawn. As well as setting up some important characters in the film, the opening of Sugar introduces two key themes and ideas. Firstly, the concept of identity appears in the family unit- it is a seemingly happy, unified group despite Cliff’s reluctance to be sociable. This idea morphs into a linked theme (that of appearance and reality) which is also present here. Secondly, there is a permeable sense of irony (especially in Madge’s criticism of her family: ‘I don’t know why you people are so afraid of any expression of emotion or affection’which is closely followed by Cookie’s precocious comment ‘emotions are unnecessary’), although much of this irony is only detectable under post-filmic analysis.
In this early section of Sugar there is also the highly parsimonious use of mise-en-scene to convey Cliff’s subjectivity- he becomes our main focus character and we are encouraged to share his experiences as he undergoes them- therefore closely aligning our spectatorship to Cliff and, as result, Andre Noble himself.

In common with the film’s theme of identity, Cliff is presented as an archetypal teenager in his listless behaviour whilst Madge delivers a maternal ‘pep talk’and presents her son with a skateboard- an object he clearly feels he doesn’t need. However, despite Cliff’s teen angst, he finds solace in the skateboard- he clasps it as if it were a valuable comfort-blanket against his induction into the adult world his Mother outlined, then uses it to go ‘downtown’in search of the vicarious thrills the perpetually precocious Cookie encourages him to seek. (Again, there is a disturbing irony in Cookie’s choice of presents for her brother- vodka, a joint, contraceptives and the message ‘GO GET SEX’). With side tracking shots that follow Cliff on his skateboard oscillating with point-of-view shots aboard, Sugar could well be about any typical teenager dressed in jacket and jeans off to see friends on the night of his 18th birthday. In fact, Cliff is a protected teenager- a na’ve boy whose life experiences have been few, and this wide-eyed, baby-faced innocence is effortlessly conveyed by Andre Noble.

Cliff’s first view of Butch is the latter urinating against a lattice wire fence, a sight that fills him with evident overwhelming curiosity and a certain admiring fascination, so mesmeric that Cliff stumbles into a group of dustbins. The industrial, urban music that accompanies the duo’s first encounter is light years away from the frothy melodies usually associated with a romantic meeting but the well-composed close-ups link both Cliff and Butch, Cliff’s face being bathed in chiaroscuro light, the lattice-work of the fence casting bars on his face which possibly hint that he is becoming trapped in a world that is alien to him. Thus, mise-en-scene is used to highlight the beauties of Cliff (as character) and consequently Andre Noble (as actor)- the use of light bringing out his flesh tones and dark puppy-dog eyes.

Cliff and Butch leave the scene together, but their brief grope in a dark doorway is the antithesis of screen romance (although perhaps truer to life, again linking to the documentary aspect of Palmer’s film) before Butch dons his jacket, symbolising that their relationship is, for the moment, at an end. Appearance or reality is also ironically marked in this section of the film, as Butch lives up to his manly name in his sleeveless top, muscles, chain and tattoos but is a hustler with a penchant for gay relationships. Cliff’s greater amount of conservative clothing is significant, for not only does it demarcate his sheltered upbringing but its gradual diminishing marks his transition from withdrawn heterosexual teenager to self-controlled, liberated young man. In fact, it is partly this gradual (and eminently credible) dissolution of what Cliff was to what Cliff is that makes Sugar such a constantly absorbing film- this is illustrated in the camaraderie between Cliff and the other male hustlers, showing the teenager’s growing confidence in his new experiences.

In the limousine, with the other hustlers keen to mark Steve’s birthday with a strip, Cliff participates, seemingly revelling in being the centre of an admiring crowd. With his shyness disappearing, Cliff flirts with a pregnant girl in the seedy (and ironically named) Paradise Club but clearly still has an awareness of his responsibilities (he calls home to assure Madge that he is all right). The visit he then pays to the bathroom introduces him to the commercial side of the relationships he has seen, and he looks na’ve- the man has suddenly become the boy again.

Arguably the most important sequence in Sugar occurs soon after sunset, in Butch’s apartment. Before it commences, Cliff’s curious nature is apparent in his exploration of the rooms, and his search for the very essence of Butch (sniffing his underwear and trying on his jacket). Then, the Cliff/Butch relationship becomes tangibly closer as they share a shower together- Cliff’s white nightwear symbolising his innocence and virginity whilst Butch’s darker clothing hints at a less savoury side to his character.

The next scene, the most iconic in the entire film, opens with a shirtless Butch alone on the bed. Cliff asks him ‘do you want me to sleep on the floor?’but Butch does not, and offers Cliff a place in the bed beside him. As Cliff lies down, and the two shirtless bodies are placed together, they are bathed in an aesthetic brightness of light. Combined with a static camera, a sense of peace and stability is created which is broken by Butch telling Cliff ‘I can’t give you sex today’, but Cliff’s reply ‘that’s okay’placates Butch and places both young men at their ease, although Cliff still looks a little discomforted at the close proximity to another body, especially a male one. ‘I’ve never had sex with a guy before’well, with anybody’Cliff mutters, and Butch seems to respond positively to this naivety and openness, although he turns away from Cliff to sleep. Disconcerted, Cliff places a nervously gentle kiss on Butch’s back and the pair go to sleep, the scene fading to black. The scene is so important for it lays bare the pair’s relationship- Butch regards it in materialistic terms, whilst Cliff is overcome by an admiring sense of awe mingled with trepidation.

The key sequence continues as the two wake and prepare for the day ahead. Cliff’s self-consciousness is strongly apparent in his getting dressed sat on the bed, and contrasts Butch’s freedom and confidence in his body. As Cliff admires Butch’s tattoo, and runs his finger over it where Butch’s stomach and groin converge, a sensual beauty to their relationship (that was initiated in bed), again emerges. Once more, Palmer uses close-ups between Cliff and Butch to underscore their growing relationship even though Butch’s ‘we should hang out’seems to Cliff a purely platonic (therefore less serious and consequently desirable) suggestion of compromise. In common with his earlier awareness of domestic protocol, it is Cliff that suggests in businesslike fashion ‘breakfast’. In the kitchen, the shirtless pair sit opposite each other and eat cornflakes. The banal task of eating the most banal cereal turns, though, into a display of ecstasy which is almost unbearable in its depth as the pair gradually ‘jack off’ together. The scene is an incredible one of physical and emotional intensity unrivalled by many others in the history of cinema, and the two leads become not merely part of their roles but subsumed within them. Mere words cannot do the scene justice- the crudeness implied by the sudden shift from eating the cornflakes to ‘jacking-off’is not what Sugar presents. Instead, the event becomes organic, poetic and entirely plausible- a major strength of the film is its refusal to skirt the very down-to-earth, instinctive parts of a relationship, and this scene is a spontaneous one of the greatest merit.

After this extraordinary breakfast scene, Cliff takes Butch home to meet his Mother. There, Butch helps Cookie to paint whilst Cliff (wearing a white T-Shirt, another symbol of his innocence) stands by and enjoys the camaraderie of the quasi-family unit, as Butch has now taken on the mantle of master of the house and Cliff has become the surrogate younger son. The concept of changing identity recurs in the next section of the film where Butch lies to Madge that he is ‘a stock-boy at K-Mart’and that he met Cliff whilst working there. The whole story (involving an ‘I Love Lucy’game, referencing a symbol of ardent mainstream Americana), is a fabrication, and Cliff is a party to the deception and energetically ‘plays up’to Butch’s fantasy scenario. (This is contrasted in the scene later in Sugar when Butch and Cliff go to see the middle-aged man and a new scenario is invented, which Cliff is far less willing to be a part of).

As they sit around the table, the family unit defined, Cliff looks adoringly at Butch who, as someone who has a steady job (and is therefore a breadwinner), has so firmly taken on the paternal role in Cliff’s family. The idea of appearance and reality, never far from the film’s events, is present here too however, as Madge swiftly realises that Butch does drugs and lets her maternal instincts emerge once more in adding a cautionary note- Butch is not what he appears to be, and she is both intrigued and slightly wary as a result.

The concept of irony in Sugar occurs when Butch simulates death throes for Cookie’s amusement- the dramatic and public nature of this is all too poignantly contrasted with Butch’s eventual demise, at which no one other than he is present. This masquerade permeates into the idea of identity, and continues in the sequence where Cliff admits Butch’s true credentials to Madge: ‘he’s a hustler’, which ushers forth yet more of Madge’s maternal instincts. Their conversation seems to suggest that Cliff accepts the note of caution Madge requests, but the next sequence (in Butch’s flat, where Stanley arrives for his sado-masochistic cleaning job) refutes this as Cliff’s curiosity leads to him becoming an active participant. The sequence once more acts as a reminder of Cliff’s childlike innocence, as he is playing a computer game as Stanley arrives and later asks ‘really?’incredulously when Stanley tells him why he makes so many deliberate mistakes in the task of washing the dishes. However, there is also a philosophical side to Cliff, showing that his experiences have turned into a learning curve: ‘maybe if it makes you happy that’s okay’, which is, in essence, what the whole film is about and evidence that his words are a result of Cliff filtering the variety of new experiences he is having and developing a cognitive response to them.

As Stanley leaves, having inducted Cliff into the ritualistic sado-masochistic relationship the former usually has with Butch, Cliff is tearfully happy- in his terms, at least, the morning with Stanley was very much okay.

In common with the entire film, Palmer then contrasts this civilised meeting with Butch’s visit to Darlene in the next sequence (which Cliff later refers to as ‘an act of compassion’). Darlene is overweight and disabled, and pays to realise her fantasy of having a nubile young man around her to indulge her whims. Indeed, her perversion extends to photographing Butch naked, his response being to photograph her too. Ironically, Butch points the camera directly at us, as if we were the subject of his observation. This alters our position of spectatorship, as we have been intrigued and amused by Cliff and Stanley’s antics but we are then drawn up to a chastening situation of a repulsive woman sweating and crying out pleasurably at sex with Butch, the partner of our focus of attention, Cliff. From being mere observers of the harmless nature of Cliff and Stanley’s sado-masochism, we have become (through the photograph) implicated in the sordidly mercenary fandango that is Butch and Darlene’s ‘session’together- we are deliberately brought into this action against our wishes. The effect of the change on our spectatorship is to exacerbate the next sequence, which finds Butch and Cliff together once more, and enable it to attain poetic heights.

With the very Transatlantic noise of cicadas, and a dog barking somewhere in the distance, Butch and Cliff enjoy each others nocturnal company (and a brief acid trip) in a striking scene that incorporates purely ambient sound. Butch’s jacket is open to show his chest, Cliff is fully topless and lies on a very brightly coloured sofa in an attitude of pure relaxation. The slow editing works in conjunction with the framing to ensure the tranquil pace, Cliff and Butch being nearly always framed together. Even when they are not, slow pans connect the two effortlessly, showing their union and closeness as they lie there, recalling the bed scene earlier in the film and its peacefulness. When the photograph of Darlene is produced (she covered her face but not her body, an ironic comment on those that look for superficial thrills with no concern for identity), Cliff tells Butch in quiet admiration ‘you are the coolest fucking guy’, but Butch refutes this praise with ‘don’t be gay’. But, even after this riposte, Cliff returns to the fray and tells Butch in all sincerity ‘you did somethin’good’. It is then, with the light shining on Cliff’s torso and Butch reflecting on his ‘session’with Darlene, that they slowly kiss- the instinctiveness of the action showing that their relationship has reached a zenith of affectionate tenderness- the kiss is not rushed, hasty or superficial but loving, calm and sensual, the fade to black as they hold hands fixing a positive note in our minds which replaces the base commercialism of the Darlene/Butch relationship. It is the relaxed- almost timeless- nature of the Cliff/Butch relationship that is most evident in this sequence, with both Cliff and Butch using their body language and sexuality to invest the scene with an erotic charge despite the absence of wild passion. This is true love- thoughtful, considered, sincere.

The next day Cliff’s juvenile innocence in Sugar emerges yet again, Palmer showing us that, despite his experiences, Cliff is still not yet a man even though he has reached the landmark age of 18. Cliff once more looks up to Butch in admiration (his ‘J.D.’tattoo is identical to that of Butch) yet behaves like Butch’s younger brother when the pair visit the middle-aged man after walking through a neon-dominated multi-storey car-park. This sequence is important to the film as a whole, as it marks the continuation of the theme of identity yet also the beginnings of the dissolution of the Cliff/Butch relationship. As the pair sit on an old-fashioned sofa in a depressingly drab room, the older man’s fantasy (that he is Butch’s father and their mother has gone out to the supermarket to buy some cream cheese) causes consternation in Cliff, who sinks further down in the sofa as if looking for obscurity. Butch, on the other hand, as someone used to this sort of fantasy world, sits forward in keenly confident manner. Even the clothing of the pair, as earlier in the film, demarcates their feelings- Cliff is over-dressed and keeps his coat on until Butch starts to undress him, whilst Butch himself wears a sleeveless top, showing his ease with the situation and with his sexuality. The contrasts so frequently employed in Sugar are used well here too, and are supplemented by Cliff’s isolated framing which shows he is genuinely discomforted and nervous of what the situation might bring. The monosyllabic answers he gives to the older man’s questions prove uneasy viewing, especially, as I have argued, we as an audience are closely aligned with Cliff.

Identity becomes confused in this sequence- Cliff becomes ‘Jeff’, Butch ‘Gary’and they have just finished ice-hockey practice in the fantasy the older man has created. Cliff’s reluctance (which started outside the man’s room) is interesting, and reaches its apex when he cries out for Butch (as a boy might for his father) as the older man moves in closer when Butch is out of the room. The older man’s desire to watch the two fondle each other makes the Cliff/Butch relationship seem suddenly sordid and devoid of the beauty it had earlier in the film, especially in the previous scene. Once more, Palmer utilises an abrupt scene contrast to comment on both the current state of affairs and to make his audience question the very nature of their spectatorship. The fact that Butch even has to undress the reluctant Cliff is a telling one, the way Cliff shies away from his advances warn of disquiet, the resulting cries of anguish that he utters seemingly mark the end of his dream- Butch uses violent sexual rape to stimulate the older man at the cost of alienating both Cliff and ourselves- the scene becomes increasingly uncomfortable viewing, and changes our position of spectatorship once more.

As Cliff and Butch emerge into daylight blinking at the contrast following their time inside yet another building, Cliff shows the first real anger we have seen in Sugar and suddenly pushes Butch over. With the mise-en-scene of a dirty, garbage-can filled area reflecting their now degraded relationship, Cliff leaves Butch and walks rapidly away. Cliff is evidently betrayed and we, as an audience who have become aligned with him to a greater extent due to his vulnerability, feel this keenly. That the spat with Butch is probably permanent is shown by the resulting straight cut to Cliff’s bedroom and his ‘forget Butch!’spray-paint resolution, Cliff’s sleeveless vest and cigarette giving him an aspect of masculinity, and creating a sense of uncertainty as to where events will take him now.

Cliff seems to long for the sunlight and the open-air, and a ride on his skateboard takes him to a lattice-fence that immediately recalls his first meeting with Butch. John Westheuser’s cinematography stunningly captures Andre Noble’s beauty, and a slow fade to black is used to subtly demarcate a dream-sequence as Cliff watches a young woman tending her baby before walking over to her. Their embrace and conversation in the afternoon sunshine belongs to another time- a parallel time- and is not a part of Cliff’s present existence. The fade to black that closes this short vignette is the more telling for the image that follows it- a scruffy Cliff alone at night smoking a joint, struggling with his solitude and his life without Butch. Then, in a culmination to his day, Cliff is shown alone on his bed running his fingers over his ‘J.D.’tattoo, the high angle employed by Palmer hinting both at his isolation and at his powerlessness- he is not in control of Butch or himself anymore. The lack of control is emphasised by his ruffled clothing- the small amount of flesh that does show harks back to Cliff’s happier times with Butch in bed, in the shower and lying together during the acid trip.

The feeling that Cliff is suffering in Butch’s absence is enforced by the appearance and reality theme in the next sequence when Cliff (looking like a street-wise kid) meets Butch again- the two walk silently along with a sense of Autumn in the mise-en-scene and in their relationship. Then, with a bittersweet irony, Cliff is propositioned by a Senior outside a High School and asked to the Prom but Cliff declines, perhaps indicating that he cannot freely give himself to anyone but Butch at this stage. But, in the way Palmer showed the two together in composed framings and connected them through similar mise-en-scene earlier in Sugar, their relationship is now presented as one of drifting apart. Thus, by cutting their activities off from each other a sense of detachment occurs, as when Cliff talks to the High School boy, Butch talks to Cookie about drugs. Again, Palmer uses a lattice fence here, but Butch remains firmly on one side of it with Cookie (ironically, considering the subject of their conversation, in a child’s playground) on the other, proof that Butch cannot return to his childhood. The role-reversal in terms of who relies on who is pertinent at this point in the film, and Butch’s ‘phone-call to Cliff is evidence of this that echoes Cliff needing (and admiring) Butch throughout the film but there is now a difference- Butch is trying to use Cliff, as is evident from the Paradise where Butch introduces his new boyfriend Greg, an unattractive balding man much older than Cliff and lacking every virtue that Cliff possesses.

Back at the flat, Palmer draws on his appearance and reality theme in Butch’s breakdown and hysterical behaviour, the high angle suggesting now Butch’s insignificance and downfall. Roles are continually reversed from earlier in Sugar, as Cliff now has to take the paternal role in holding and comforting Butch as the latter is in a maelstrom of emotional torment and violent aggression. Cliff, appearing calm, leaves- that he cries bitterly on the landing denotes two things: the reality of the situation (Butch is on a swift downward spiral) and his vulnerable fragility despite the experiences he has had. The audience does not see Butch’s death per se, but the way he smashes his arm in anger through the window leading to it bleeding uncontrollably is a shocking moment in Sugar, and should serve as a warning to anyone whose temper can go beyond their control, such is its sudden, graphic and unexpected nature. After continually being around people, and needing, so it seems, human companionship, Butch dies alone- the short next scene where Greg confides that he won’t be going to Butch’s funeral again gives us a double standard- Greg did not truly love Butch, and it is Butch who has suffered as a result.

Appearance and reality seem to recur again as Butch lies in his coffin and Cliff (taking on Butch’s mantle of the man of the house) takes Cookie to see him. The way Cookie is quickly upset proves unsurprising, but counterpoints her statement from the beginning of the film that ‘emotions are unnecessary’with grim irony. The appearance (Butch is dead) is suddenly transformed into a reality when he ‘awakes’, but it is another of Cliff’s subjective fantasy visions, much like that of the young woman and child, showing what he wants rather than what he has. Sufficiently shaken, Cliff uses the skateboard (a symbol of transition between childhood and adulthood) to escape from the scene, closely followed by Cookie. In a cyclical return to the start of the film, the pair sit in the restaurant, Cookie’s comment ‘it’s just not fair’aptly summing-up not only the events of the movie but, in part, the very nature of life itself. But, Cliff is determined not to let the mise-en-scene of the restaurant lower his spirits and flirts with another man. Their conversation could be one between Cliff and Butch, such is its tenderness. Andre Noble effortlessly conveys a confident Cliff who has been affected by his experiences to the extent that he feels able to strike out on his own without the need to remain in the shadow of another such as Butch.

The closing of the film mirrors some aspects of its opening- there is another frantic grope (this time in a lavatory cubicle) between Cliff and his new beau, with none of the reserved shyness seen much earlier in the film with Butch. Sugar ends as abruptly as it began, again in true documentary style. Cookie and Cliff leave the restaurant and Cliff tosses his skateboard onto a pile of garbage, thereby shedding the preconceptions that went with his former ‘pre-Butch’life. The skateboard- a symbol of his transition from child to man- has served its purpose. The fade to black transition, used earlier in the film to connote peacefulness, is used again here as Cliff walks into the distance. We, and the camera, do not follow him, but remain at a distance as his figure is slowly enveloped by the darkness. Cliff, and Andre Noble’s, image fades from view- and all but fades from life itself.

If Sugar is to be Andre Noble’s final blazon, the fascinating extras on the DVD are a fittingly melancholic eulogy. Apart from the interview with Brendan Fehr (Andre’s poignant absence is more telling than Fehr’s presence) and the obligatory trailer, there are also three deleted scenes (which range from the awkward to the bizarre, but are constantly interesting) plus a tribute to Andre. This thoughtful addition starts with his screen test for Sugar, in which he is required to vocally act the bed scene and confess he has not, in fact, had sex with anyone before. The sincerity Andre brings to the reading makes it easy to see why he was awarded the role of Cliff, but is also tinged with a sad emptiness as is the on and off set footage that capture Andre not as part of his scripted role but relaxing and being himself. In all this priceless footage we witness the clock-ticking on the unsuspecting Andre Noble’s life, and there is something very sad in that, like watching a beautiful flower moments before it is destroyed.

It is the vitally important raison d’etre of film to preserve the beauty and innocence of someone like Andre Noble, who, inexplicably, was taken before his time. The existence of a film like Sugar is an essential one, for in it Andre Noble lives, breathes and is, and that, even weighed in terms of the world’s richest gold, is a priceless jewel beyond our wildest comprehension.

Sugar, directed by John Palmer, is available on DVD from Peccadillo Pictures

Parasol Peccadillo website