There are certain portions of even indie film cinema that go unnoticed a lot. And when these particular movies end up having some popularity going behind them there is generally a sort of curiosity as to how anyone could like them. Gay and Lesbian movies seem to suffer this stigma a lot as it hasn't yet hit hard for some people that it is not a requirement to be gay or lesbian to enjoy them (that or the idea of two guys making out is just repulsive, but let's pretend that it's the former and not the latter just for a second). So when one of these movies really stands out the curiosity is high. Latter Days hasn't exactly hit any sort of mainstream appeal by any stretch of the imagination. But it's the kind of Gay and Lesbian movie that really ought to because it is about more than just the gay aspects. It doesn't rely too heavily on stereotypes to develop its characters (though it can't be helped to some degree) and it actually HAS character. And they're rather sympathetic characters. While Latter Days certainly isn't as good as other GLBT themed movies such as C.R.A.Z.Y. or Mysterious Skin it is certainly much better than Mainstream Hollywood stuff like Brokeback Mountain (which actually isn't bad but there's a reason I really just can't stand it) and... anything that comes out with Adam Sandler trying to be sympathetic (which are always headaches).
Latter days concerns itself with a young man named Davis. A mormon missionary who has come to Los Angeles with a couple of others in the church. He's welcomed into town by a guy named Christian. A gay man who is known for getting his kicks by bringing home mysterious men at night and never really seeing them again. This changes when Christian meets Davis. After Davis and his companions (they're not really friends...) reject his offer of a six pack of beer he discovers that Davis is Mormon and arranges a bet with a few friends at the restaurant he works at that he can get into Davis's pants. Coincidently, as you might have guessed, Davis isn't really straight. It begins as a simple friendship until it slowly evolves into something romantic. That's not to say they didn't have problems. Upon first meeting Christian, Davis simply assumes he's a playboy who isn't in it for anything other than the sex. And at first he really is (it's just a bet after all). When they finally share a kiss and Davis's missionary buddies catch him he has to go back home where he is promptly ex-communicated from his church.
That's Latter Days in a nutshell and just reading about it doesn't really give you a sense of just how good the movie is. It seems like your typical, "Guy struggling with his religion and sexuality," sort of thing while it centers on another playboy. And as you can imagine the movie is quite predictable in nature. We all know how movies like this end. But the journey getting there is a pretty good one. It's heartfelt in parts and emotionally satisfying in others. It's primarily because Davis and Christian are good characters, particularly how they change. From Davis coming to accept his sexuality to Christian discovering that a relationship isn't so bad at all and that there is more to life than just one night stands and being shallow. It's this particular arc about the film that's rather nice. It's not ridiculously in your face about gay rights and that sort of thing... but it is a movie that explores gay issues and how they're quite different (and similar) to heterosexual ones. Because the story is really about it's characters it doesn't feel the need to constantly remind you that the main characters are gay. This is because it goes the whole nine yards.
Now, before I move on, I have to explain what that means. A lot of gay movies tend to focus on the sensuality between the characters more so than anything else. It'll focus on the actual sexuality too, but in label only. You might see a kiss here or there. And the movie is very telling that the two are interested in each other and hints that they possibly had sex but it's always striking how much a lot of queer cinema take the "sex" out of homosexuality. And other times (particularly in comedies) it's almost all about the sex but rarely about the characters. Not that finding movies like Latter Days where it's not afraid to show it's characters romantically involved is THAT rare, but that expression of love beyond a kiss doesn't happen a lot... even in some of the BEST movies in the genre.
That being said, the actual sex is neither raunchy nor shocking, but actually quite emotionally satisfying. You actually get the sense they care about one another. Throw in a couple of conversations about how the characters actually struggle with who they are and you actually find yourself caring about them.
It's a shame then, that Latter Days doesn't do much else for its other characters or that it sort of drops off certain plot points without really finishing them... or just sort of giving a rushed conclusion. Let's take the bet Christian makes. Does it ever become something the characters ever really bring up or discuss? Not really. It's a prime thing for bringing out conflict between Davis and Christian (and an obvious choice to really develop Christian's character to show he's more than just a playboy) but it hardly ever gets brought up. Even when it comes to Davis's attention (through different means) he seems unfazed that his lover's infatuation with him began as a silly bet.
That one is forgivable but some other things you kind of wish the story would've taken the extra mile with. The conflict between Davis and his parents never actually gets any sort of resolution. They find out he's had sex with a boy, we see them disappointed but it just sort of stops there. And this is particularly sad because it gets built up quite a bit in the second half, particularly the mother who actually has a lot of dynamic character to her. The movie introduces us to hit but never really follows through on it. Granted the story isn't part of Davis's parents, but it's the story arc that feels the most rushed out of the batch. Which would be fine if this weren't actually a MAJOR story arc. That being that while his parents aren't crucial, it is clear to Davis that his faith is. The father is in the film for all of two seconds. And while you get a look into the emotional struggle that Davis's parents are having the story drops off before there's any real resolution. There are other things that bring up my gripe with this, but to say the other part of why it's odd would mean spoiling a HUGE part of the story.
The other story that it seems to half ass concerns itself with Christian's friend Julie. She's on her way to a singing career and actually makes some headway. But a conflict comes up when she writes a song, the lyrics of which are drawn from Christian's journal. Again, Christian gets made... but the movie never follows through on this. This is worse than the Davis's parents one. The conflict with Davis's parents actually goes somewhere but this one doesn't go anywhere. But unlike Davis's parents the movie just sort of forgets that this "problem" came up. A short minute or two of dialog would've resolved it.
All that in mind, the BIG story is actually what is the most satisfying here. That being the relationship between Davis and Christian which is actually the story you're (hopefully) watching this movie for in the first place. There are a couple of moments where the film begins to fall prey to stereotypes it really doesn't have to (can we please get through one gay and lesbian film where the gay characters don't bitch about an actress who should've won an oscar?) but it never goes overboard with them. The movie doesn't spend a lot of time having it's male characters that happen to be gay being far too effeminate for their own good... or that stereotypical homophobic guy who ACTUALLY turns out to be gay in the end. It seems to be trying to strive for a bit more than that and it reaches higher than that. It helps it to be more enjoyable.
Latter Days is a movie worth watching because it's an emotionally satisfying one that doesn't try too hard. It has it's problems in the sense that it just doesn't really handle every conflict it introduces but the BIG picture is never really forgotten. It's a movie that isn't a bad watch at all. It might even leave you feeling optimistic.
You can watch "Latter Days" for free if you like. The movie is available on Hulu.com through April 2015. The site shows commercials but otherwise there is no cost, and you don't have to register as a member unless you want to.
Pros: acting, story, development of characters Cons: ... The Bottom Line: "Tuesday 3:00 a.m., Once again I'm wide awake. Waiting for time to mend this part of me that keeps on breaking" ~ C. Jay Cox Latter Days centers around two polar opposites - the Mormon church and homosexuals. First we have our playboy about town, Christian, that has a new boy toy nightly. He is fun loving, adventurous, … more
"LATTER DAYS" Deservedly Welcome Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride Several people have asked for my opinion of a film that has become somewhat of a modern gay classic film and one of the bestselling gay films of these times. No I am not talking about "Brokeback Mountain" which I shall eventually get around to. The movie is "Latter Days (TLA Releasing). It is a beautiful little movie and deserves all of the accolades heaped … more
LATTER DAYS is a classy little film that holds its own among the light love stories out today. And yet it is more: some unique phobias and prejudices are examined very genuinely and the result is a movie that gives us not only characters about whom we care but enlightens us as to both sides of an ongoing issue: homophobia. Bright, crisp writing and directing by C. Jay Cox, LATTER DAYS presents a tale of a West Hollywood effervescent young man who plays the bar scene and one … more
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Christian (Wes Ramsey of the washboard abs) is a waiter, party boy, and first-class man magnet. Elder Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss of the goofy grin) is a straight-laced Mormon missionary. When he and three elders, including the uptight Ryder (Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Mysterious Skin), move into Christian's Hollywood apartment complex, it's clear something's got to give. Christian tries to make his new neighbors feel welcome, but they're put off by his flamboyance--the short-shorts, the rainbow flag in his yard, etc. When Christian's trash-talking pals at Lila's restaurant, including the cynical Traci (Amber Benson,Buffy the Vampire Slayer), bet that he can't seduce one of these clean-cut young men, he takes them up on it and sets his sights on cute, soft-spoken Aaron. As a pretense, he asks to learn more about his Church, but where they really connect is over their love of old movies, everything fromPsychotoTommy. When Aaron accuses him of being shallow, however, Christian starts to wonder if the bet wasn't such a good idea--plus he's starting to fall for the guy. Turns out the closeted Aaron feels the same way about him, but when his roommates find out, he's shipped back to Pocatello where he faces excommunication. Written and directed by C. Jay Cox (Sweet Home Alabama), a former Mormon missionary,Latter Daysfeatures Mary Kay Place as Aaron's disapproving mother and Jacqueline Bisset as the acerbic, yet supportive Lila.--Kathleen C. ...