Do you know that feeling when everything is flat? Youíve read too much slash and it all starts to blur and thereís no feeling in it anymore. You watch movies but they donít talk to you.
I felt like that, then I watched Latter Days, and I lived itóframe for frame, wonderful moment for wonderful moment. This is a gay movie that rips the heart out of you, then stuffs it back, all shiny clean and new and ready for love again.
Christian is a shallow, extraordinarily pretty LA gay boy. Aaron is a Mormon missionary. Christian makes a bet with his friends that he can seduce the, by definition, homophobic Aaron (Mormons have ďjustĒ accepted black people; women are okay as long as they are breeding. Homosexuals? They go to hell).† I think this movie is very clever. It debunks religions that see negatives in anything, yet celebrates the central mystery that is God and forgiveness and love. Itís rather philosophical at the same time as being able to laugh at itself. The central characters are lovely. Steve Sandvoss really does a great job as Aaron: thereís nothing trite about the way he plays this young man in torment. Wes Ramsey is equally good as Christian, a young man who finds that his God-shaped hole canít be filled with the glittery lights of his shallow world.
I canít recommend this film too highly. Itís got some amazingly erotic scenes between the two lead men: kisses that will make you ache, sizzling, erotic (but never graphic) love scenes. The script is very clever. The music, which is utterly necessary for the plot, is original and wonderful. There are superb, delicate touches that make you believe in angels, hope for the best, and go with what your heart tells you.
Many of the reviews panned this film when it came out. You may have read some of them. I can only say that if you have a heart and a soul and the ability left to still feel something very special, you will enjoy this film. Please, give it a go.
Unfortunately, not released in R2 yet.
Christian is a pretty West Hollywood gayboy, an aspiring actor working in a classy restaurant run by glamorous Lila, played by Jacqueline Bisset.† Hot sex and physical perfection are Christianís main pursuits.† When handsome Mormon missionary Aaron Davis, age 19, moves into the apartment next door, Christian, with supreme self-confidence, makes a bet with restaurant friends that he can seduce the Idaho farmboy.†
Aaron is confused about his sexuality.† Elder Davis, in LA to save souls for his church and make his parents proud, struggles with his conscience over forbidden desire for his flirtatious neighbour.† Tension between the two builds to a climactic clinch, Aaronís hunger overwhelming the prohibitions of his faith.† Christian appears fluffy and shallow but Aaronís influence reveals an inner core thoughtful, considerate, and surprisingly vulnerable, though he hides behind the colourful plumage and affectation of uncaring.† We think we know Christianís type, but are proved wrong.† Like Elder Davis.† Meeting Aaron convinces Christian of the emptiness in his hedonistic lifestyle, as he realises the value of meaningful relationships. ††
This is one of those special films as soon as the credits roll you want to watch over again.† Delightfully romantic, though I wanted a bit more development of side issues, while the subplot about the singer/songwriter obligatory fag hag friend was slightly distracting.† Gay preoccupation with youth & beauty and the fallout from sexual freedom are touched on briefly when Christian, changed by Aaron, becomes a† volunteer supporting an AIDS patient.† Aaronís parents† cannot deal with their sonís homosexuality except within the narrow confines of their church.† I felt very sorry for Aaronís mother, forced to reject her son by her unfeeling husband and rigid Mormon doctrine. But Iím not complaining about a film that focuses on a stirring love story.† There are sex scenes, not explicit but powerfully erotic.† This film touches deep inside.† Sometimes miracles happen to people who love and care for each other, regardless of forces conspiring to keep them apart.†
Controversy surrounded the film when the Church of Latter Day Saints predictably objected to its portrayal.† Well, if youíre going to condemn gay people to Hellfire and excommunicate a troubled boy for his sexuality, while having a history of polygamy, then itís hard to avoid a charge of hypocrisy.† The writer/director was a Mormon missionary the same age as Aaron in the film so his experience feels real.† It hurts Aaron that his church rejects men like him while Jesus taught brotherly love and tolerance.† Although his church refuses to countenance active homosexuality, Aaron retains his belief in a spiritual dimension to life.† Heís not looking for casual sex but a loving committed relationship.† Just because he wants that with a man shouldnít require him to give up his belief that God is up there, joining the dots that link us together.
Writer/director C Jay Cox has assembled a great cast.† Amber Benson features as one of Christianís aspiring star colleagues, waiting tables until achieving fame. The lead actors make you believe they are who theyíre playing, both gorgeous in a totally contrasting way.† Amazingly both Wes Ramsey (Christian) and Steve Sandvoss (Aaron) were in their first movie roles. Thereís great chemistry between the two, UST way high. Christian sports a pair of baby blue skimpy shorts that leave nothing to the imagination.† And Aaron wears fetching shimmery Mormon underwear.
Aaron isnít alone with his unsympathetic family.† One of the best scenes has Christian in a lengthy monologue recount a traumatic hunting trip with a father determined to make a man of his flamboyantly gay son.† But Christian has a new family at Lilaís.† Friends accept us unconditionally and help us accept ourselves.† Although the film was condemned by the Mormon church, it has a spiritual dimension in the redemptive transforming power of love.
Although low budget the film looks slick enough, but the real strength lies in a story that blends realism with a dusting of magic. I donít want to spoil the plot, but be prepared for heartache and some disturbing images.
A fine musical score, including specially written songs, adds to the emotional impact of a film that doesnít only speak to a gay audience.† Itís central theme is that weíre all connected, and itís not the differences between us that matter but our shared humanity.† Why donít they make more movies like this?† Well itís easy to understand why when you hear those involved talk about how hard it was to get Latter Days to the big screen.† Weíve read so many good books thatíd make much better movies than most mainstream Hollywood fare.† Itís crazy that finance and fear of gay themes hinder the production of inspirational films to show other boys like Aaron that theyíre neither alone nor wrong to feel as they do.† Not to be missed.† Now if only we had more like it.
Buy Latter Days [WS] (REGION 1) (NTSC) from Amazon