Whilst this movie has some clever dialogue, and some interesting things to say about hypocrisy and the gay media (amongst other things), it ultimately fails as a story. In short two very public figures, one a political activist and the other a celebrity, are both in the midst of a public firestorm, albeit for different reasons. Whilst trying to avoid the humiliation of having every aspect of their personal lives being the subject of everyday discussion, they find peace with each other. Within a very short period of time, they fall hopelessly in love and end up making some rather predictable choices.
Not that I don't believe in love, or that it happens as quickly as it is portrayed in this movie, its just that I was not convinced. The love story seemed peripheral to the clever dialogue and subject matter often discussed between the two, almost as if the writer was attempting to elevate the story beyond the romance. Discussions around the demise of gay media, which may or may not have betrayed its central audience and the concept of same-sex marriage, are difficult subjects to discuss within a single movie. Yet, these subjects are cleverly introduced and indirectly debated between the characters and a silent but participatory audience, with some interesting positions taken. I for one, often found myself thinking quite hard about some of the statements that were made.
Whilst the politics are important, this is primarily a story about two people who find each other in the midst of upheaval. This is where I find that the story becomes fanciful and misguided. Profound upheaval and emotional jarring makes for vulnerable people (that I get), but these are also successful and astute people founded on carefully guarded and structured lives. One is a political activist at the centre of the same-sex debate, acutely aware of the media and its role in moulding public opinion. The other a closeted soap-star, who is well versed in living a double life. Yet within days they reveal their hidden secrets to each other, both of which could be significantly damaging to their respective careers, fall in love and abandon all self-protection for the sake of love and each other.
Perhaps that is the point of the movie? Love conquers all, and at the end of the day we are all too interested in protecting what we believe is important because society says it is. Normative values indeed cause great harm when pursued at the expense of principle, but then so does in my opinion hedonism.
This would have been a far better movie if the political debate was constructed around a more believable premise, and the romance a little less sentimental. At times the love story was so sweet it was saccharine, and thus detracted from the story and its message. Ultimately, I believe the director underestimated his audience, choosing to provide the "nice Hollywood" ending as opposed to leaving the audience thinking about what the movie is ultimately trying to say about a great many important things.
A great pity, as I suspect if the writer was given some room and greater influence in the construct of the story, then this could have been a good movie. The acting was okay, but I have certainly seen a great deal better in less successful movies. There have also been far better portrayals of romance and love, which are important topics within themselves. "Latter Days", "Shelter", "Avril", "Maurice" and "Eyes Wide Open" to mention but a few, do a superb job of combining romance and love with a deeper more resonating message.
So it can indeed be done, just not this time.