Monday, January 28

Latter Days Review

I know the whole gay community know and revere this movie Latter Days, independent movie from 2003. And it is the first movie for both talented actors Steve Sandvoss (Lie to Me) and Wes Ramsey ("Charmed"). This movie also features Amber Benson ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin), Erik Palladino ("ER"), and Rob McElhenney ("Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia"). The basic plot is Mormon missionary Elder Davis (Sandvoss) moves to L.A. with his group of missionaries, (which is more like a frat) to where a party boy Christian (Ramsey) lives with his singing best friend Julie (Rebekah Johnson). Christian, in a romantic movie manner, makes a bet he can 'turn' a Mormon. But, little do they know Elder Davis is has his own secret of his own. When they almost kiss, Elder Davis stops when Christian says his 'line' that always works: 'It doesn't have to mean anything.' He calls Christian shallow and leaves. The first rule he breaks is by telling Christian his real name: Aaron. Christian decides to better himself and delivers meals to HIV/AIDS patients.

Christian meets Keith (Palladino) the obligatory 'tough friend' that teaches the protagonist a lesson. He even says "I was you." Besides the cliches and formulas, this movie has its charms. It doesn't feel like you are watching an independent movie. According to the commentary, Palladino's mom told him, "Three years on "ER" and now you are doing gay porn?" LOL. Okay, back to the plot... Because of an accident that happens to Ryder (Gordon-Levitt), Aaron feels bad, Christian comforts him and they happen to kiss and the others happen to notice and Aaron is excommunicated. On the way back home to Iowa, Aaron has to wait for his flight in Salt Lake city and Christian runs for his love and confronts him. They kiss and make up and end up in a hotel after a snow storm. There they are completely nude in a lovely sex scene and Christian delivers a monologue about his past, getting deeper into the character.

Jacqueline Bisset ("Nip/Tuck," Mr. and Mrs. Smith) plays Christian's boss, she delivers a powerful performance. Bisset, who I have only seen in "Nip/Tuck" was a crazy villain and went a bit too far, but here she is perfect. As for the main actors, Ramsey calls forth vintage Ryan Reynolds in his comedy phase, but that is not an insult. And the marathon of horrible shirts he wears is mentioned in the commentary. Sandvoss gives a honest and strong performance, very heartbreaking and also sexy. With such enthusiasm, Sandvoss can be both innocent, but also has a devilish, yet knowledgeable smirk. I like how even though the character Aaron never came out of the closet and had his 'secret', he was not like 'whoa is me' or ignorant to the mechanics of things. When he strips off all his clothes to be with Christian, he is taking off all his inhibitions metaphorically.

Mary Kay Place (Pecker, "Big Love") plays his mom and she is always known for passionate moms or crazy ladies, she gives a good performance here too. The movie has plenty of little supernatural hints and connections and clues. The movie is about we are all connected. I think it is all about hope, it gives a strong message. It also gives hope to religious gay people. I understand why people love this movie. It is definitely worth watching. And it is not preachy, it is just adorable. It's just good.