Brian Jacobson
LGBT Film/Video Festival Preview

Children of God

By - Oct 24th, 2010 04:00 am

Still from Children of God (2009), Photo Courtesy of Mercury Rising Films

UWM’s LGBT Film and Video Festival concludes Sunday evening with a screening from director-on-the-rise Kareem J. Mortimer. At the heart of four revolving stories in Children of God (told in a sort of Babel or Crash narrative style) is Johnny (Johnny Ferro). As a white person and a shy, gay man living in a mostly black country immersed in a horrible homophobic panic, he doesn’t have it easy. He hides who he is from his permanently grimace-faced father, generally mopes around at school and the beach, and regularly gets beat up.

Another storyline involves the wife of a media-friendly and anti-gay pastor who supports her husband’s words by being even more vocal and extreme in public than he. When her son is caught playing with a doll, she flips out in a way that makes Mommie Dearest look milquetoast. What she doesn’t know, of course, is that her husband is on the “down low”.

That’s just one of a few contrivances that holds this film up from being a natural hit. Others involve Johnny meeting the wild, untamed black Bahamian named Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams) who finds him on the beach and spiritually brings him out of his funk. This leads to them becoming intimate in a slow, languid scene that seems filmed in real time.

I will not give out spoilers here for those planning to see it, but Act 3 involving these star-crossed lovers leaves the realm of Logo Channel melodrama and enters tragic afterschool special. While Children of God does an intriguing job of tackling tricky subject matter with complex and low-key character acting, it falters when it tries to make its points about hypocrisy, the pyschology of bullies and the portrayal of women as unaccepting of gay sons.

I recommend this film for its lens on the Carribean, gorgeous natural landscapes and use of people not normally seen in feature films. And Children of God‘s touching scenes of love are less about sex than about healing and coming to terms. I just wish writer/director Mortimer had the will to follow his characters to natural ends instead of falling down Brokeback Mountain for resolution.

Categories: A/C Feature 3, LGBT, Movies

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