Thursday, March 22, 2007

Passion and conservatives

Poster Boy, perhaps drawing inspiration from the irony of the Cheney family, is about a closeted gay man and his neo-conservative father, who happens to be the bulldog senior senator from North Carolina. The movie has the lopsidedness of a liberal tirade and reeks of the off-putting earnestness of amateur actors and filmmakers, but there are a few fleeting moments when it passionately and levelheadedly denounces the hypocrisies of our times. Take this speech by the son to a reporter:

What am I part of, Jack? An issue? Don't you get it? Issues are what they use to divide us. Sexual orientation, race, gender -- all issues that don't actually pertain to anyone except those being cut out and thrown away by the issue. Does it really matter to some farmer in Kansas whether or not two men get married in Vermont? But see, they need us to choose sides. They create these issues for us to cling to, to grasp at. You know they separate us into these divisions: Black, White, Gay, Straight, Rich, Poor. Blame it Christian, Liberal, Democrat, Conservative. Split. Different. Opposed. How can a cause be just if it pits people against each other?
Agreed, right? Makes sense. The film is shot guerilla-style like a political thriller, but it's not a thriller. It's not a coming-of-age story or a coming-out story or a romance, either. For most of the film, I wasn't sure what it was. It seems manufactured to arrive at that speech, which follows a climax whose outrageous satirical tone doesn't click with the previous scenes, which are staged to feel very real. With the issue it addresses, Poster Boy could've (and should've) been a great political potboiler. Instead, despite a moment of clarity here and there, it resigns itself to being an earnest plea, which is decidedly less impactful than a go-for-broke, spear-headed satire.

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