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Latter Days [Blu-ray]
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Finally on Blu-Ray, this queer classic from C. Jay Cox, the writer of the hit comedy Sweet Home Alabama is a heartwarming and tender gay romantic drama that combines laughs, seduction and tears with plenty of romance. The handsome Aaron (Steve Sandvoss), a Mormon missionary, travels door-to-door in Los Angeles spreading the word of his religion. Christian (Wes Ramsey), a cute West Hollywood party boy, goes from man to man without much commitment. Opposites will soon attract when Aaron and Christian meet and sparks begin to fly. Featuring two star-making performances from Sandvoss and Ramsey, the film also features a terrific supporting cast including Mary Kay Place ( Further Tales of the City ), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( Inception ) and international screen legend Jacqueline Bisset.
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This is a very touching and wonderful film about a promiscuous gay man Christian (Wes Ramsey) who makes a bet with his friends that he will sleep with one of the Mormon boys, Aaron, who has moved into his block. Yet the more Christian gets to know Aaron (played beautifully by Steve Sandvoss) the more he realises what a superficial and shallow life he leads, and begins to fall in love with the Mormon lad (who is suppressing his homosexual tendencies). Once the ‘church’ finds out about Aaron’s sexuality, he not only has to deal with his own issues with being gay but also the repercussions within his Mormon family and church. This film really surprised me; it’s got a real heart to it, and deals with the subject matter in a sensitive and respectful way. I must admit to shedding some tears during the film and it’s the kind of film you can watch over and over.
Steve Sandvoss plays the shy yet interested young man very well. Wes Ramsey too plays the shallow gay man on the scene and puls off the look. Great to see Jacqueline Bisset playing a good role again too.
The film highlights a number of points which is that gay men are often more concerned about looks and that maybe we all do look towards the door for something better to come along.
I recommend this film to everyone - although I guess if you are Mormon you may have to get through some barriers before seeing the merits of the film.
Despite it's low budget this film shines out from a lot of mediocre releases from hollywood last year.
The acting, I think, is very good, especially Mary Kay Place as Aaron's mother, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job at being the git you love to hate.
Latter Days was made on a small budget, and sometimes it shows, in the sets and the sparse numbers of extras; this however adds to the simplicity and sincerity of the film, and helps in making the story more character-based.
On the whole the script is quick and witty, but the dialogue can seem a bit contrived sometimes (e.g. Christian's heart-to-heart with Lila towards the end of the film). But this is only a minor hitch in comparisson with the film's major strength - SINCERITY. C. Jay Cox's sincerity is a tangible and powerful element here, and it drives the whole thing forward. His memories and experience of Mormon culture are omni-present, and you can tell that this is a story straight from the heart. He succeeds in being judgmental without ever being bitter or uncharitable. His effort is a great success.
Aaron (brilliantly played by Steve Sandvoss),a young Mormon with suppressed homosexual tendencies from the American midwest is assigned to do missionary work in Los Angeles. There he gets to know Christian (an absolutely superb Wes Ramsey)a beautiful but shallow typical West Hollywood type gay. On a bet from his friends, he also embarks on a mission to add Aaron to his long list of sexual conquests. In the course of getting to know each other, Chris holds a mirror to Aaron forcing him to accept his sexual orientation in the same way that Aaron holds a mirror to let Christian see the superficiality of the life he opted for. What starts out as a bet unlocks the feelings they hold for each other which despite the tears, pain and heartache makes them realize for whom each was meant for.
Emotionally, this is not a quiet film. Exquisitely layered, it not only lets the viewer partake in the constant swing of emotions that pendles through the story but as well as give us quite an intimate close-up of a a certain sector of American society. Sandvoss does a very moving potrayal of Aaron who is torn between duty to his church,family and to himself. He portrays his character with such an awesome endearing naivete that one cannot help but simply love him and, for the jaded viewer could possibly wake the desire for a simpler, more truthful life. Ramsey as Christian portrays your average West Hollywood gay to perfection. Very good-looking,fun-loving,camp and a very superficial. Ramsey's tour de force however is the superb transition his character makes from empty being to that of a person of substance. Jacqueline Bisset who has come back from what seems like a very long hiatus as Lila delivers a delicately understated performance. The rest of the cast also contribute to the fascinatingly complex honesty of this film. A wonderful cinematic work that has no need to hide its light behind a bushel and which should belong to any gay cineaste's collection. Definitely worth your time and money.
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