I think Iíve enjoyed this movie almost more than any others Iíve watched (but then I have just watched some utterly dire ones like Endgame, so Iím feeling jaded and just wanted entertaining!). This film defines the word joyous. Itís an eleven-year journey in the lives of two men, Alan and Tommy from the late 70s when they meet to the early 90s when they are reunited for a road trip in Mexico.
When the film started I wondered for a moment what I was watching. The 70s recreation is hysterical: the wigs dreadful, the sets so brown and orange! But itís utterly authentic and everyone is enjoying themselves so much that you are soon totally sucked into the progression of the years and forget how deliberately dated it looks.
I think the two lead actors in this movie are more convincing as lovers than in almost any film weíve watched. Theyíre best friends and their attraction for each other shines out of every scene. They share laughter, which is pretty rare in lots of the movies weíve watched.
The film is a story of Alan and Tommy growing up, but itís also the story of gay rights in America. Not told in a heavy way, but through great clips from gay rights rallies, the boys' love defines the gay rights issues and the issues affect their lives. Itís very clever and very believable.
The film ends up in the 90s, with a very contemporary look, which is quite startling after the believable aging of these men. Larry Sullivan, who plays the initially straight, Republican Alan, is the most chameleon of actors. He is utterly stunning, but seems to flawlessly become a 70s man or an 80s man. Itís quite a trick. Iíve just been to his website http://www.larrysullivan.net/ and was intrigued to see how many guest appearances heís made on shows Iíve watched. As the image gallery will show, he can just blend into a look of a role.
The soundtrack of this movie is wonderful; itís a real trip down memory lane, and each track just suits the moment its chosen for.
Do watch this movie. I donít think youíll regret it. Donít expect gay sex or a great deal of nudity, but if you want superb acting and a great love story between two men whose chemistry lifts off the screen, then this will be the film for you (if you can bear the wigs).
This isnít another road movie.† Though there is, eventually, a trip by car from Mexico to Texas, itís a metaphorical journey of self-discoveryÖcoming outÖfinding that perfect first love that lasts forever.†
Straightlaced Alan is a repressed young republican trying to exorcise his demons by writing an anti-gay book.† One night at a party in LA he meets Tommy, scruffy, long-haired gay radical activist.† It's love at first sight, opposites attracting.† Alan is living a lie, like so many gay men, in constant anxiety, mostly to please his authoritarian father (who thinks Richard Nixon too liberal).
Itís almost painful to watch Alan wrestle with his desire, a subtle but effective performance.† Tommy wants Alan but not unless he comes willingly, without shame or guilt.† Heís in this for the longterm, not a casual encounter.† One night a kiss leads to a lot more.† Then a hilarious scene next morning when Alanís parents arrive unexpectedly.† Itís moot whether dad would be most upset Tommyís a man or that heís a pot-smoking radical activist.
We follow Alan and Tommy over more than ten years, sequences linked by effective use of contemporary newsreels with footage of gay activist parades and protests, then backlash by Anita Bryant and Ďfamily valuesí rightwing moralists.† Alanís road to self-acceptance mirrors the rise of the gay movement during the time period, 1973-1984, the golden age of gay lib and sexual freedom, that ended in the tragedy of AIDS.† Tender romance mixed with gritty politics and a hefty dose of reality.
Itís an ambitious movie with so many flaws it shouldnít work, but somehow- and I really donít know why- it does.† Manipulative, stretching credulity, relying on stereotypes, and sometimes silly, but made from the heart and love overcomes.
The main problem is the unsettling way it lurches from comedy to melodrama to tragedy to slapstick.† I get the point: make a serious film watchable by making the audience laugh.† Itís human nature to find humour in the most dire circumstances, a survival mechanism.† But it really did my head in, emotionally exhausting.
The main conflict is contrived, but I went along with that.† The prelude to it wasnít quite convincing or maybe Iím too cynical.† Though I love the notion of Tommy teaching Alan how to be gay.
You can tell theyíre getting the most from sets, costumes, etc. but the filmmakers have done a great job making the film look historically accurate.† And I know because that was my era.† The soundtrack is good, too.† There are some really awful 70s wigs- Angelus bad-† but timeís passage leads to shorter length and smaller hair pieces.† Ending up almost shaven headed.
The two leads are excellent.† Alexis Arquette over-does campy queen Michael but I ended up liking him, as he has a good heart.† Best friend Beverley is convincingly flaky and fun.† Peter the older, predatory male hiding in the closet, is suitably reptilian, and shows what Alanís fate mightíve been if Tommy hadnít saved him.† What IS it with gay movies and ageing actresses?† Weíve had Jacqueline Bisset and Karen Black.† Now Jill St John as Alanís mother stops just about short of scenery chewing.† Are young directors so goshdarned happy to land big name glamour theyíre scared to risk a warning to tone it down?† Her liberation is true to the spirit of the era, and works well with Alanís coming out.
I think this film succeeds in the end because of its uplifting message that you must fight for what you believe in, whether thatís love or human rightsÖthey go together.† In 1973 homosexuality was still treated as a mental illness.† The gay movement changed things for the better, leading to the more open and tolerant society of today.†† By personalising the struggle with Alan and Tommy, this film has strong emotional impact.† Alan starts out in fear, but by journeyís end heís free, gay and proud.† Worth watching.