Thursday, October 06, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Latter Days

Finally saw a movie which was in our Netflix queue for over a month (sigh!) when I was back home in Los Angeles recently. The movie is Latter Days, which is about the romance between a West Hollywood muscle twink named Christian and a blonde, innocent 19-year-old Mormon missionary named Aaron.

Latter Days had been on our list of movies to see for a long time, since the Other Half was a Mormon missionary and word-of-mouth described the film as being a heartwarming gay love story.

Even with that much information about the film, I was still pleasantly surprised by Latter Days in two ways: the script and the cast. The director, C. Jay Cox, also wrote the screenplay, and (according to IMDB) apparently based it on his own life as a Mormon missionary who went to Los Angeles and turned into a West Hollywood gay party boy. One would expect the script for what is essentially a low-budget gay film festival flick to be trite and predictable but it repeatedly surprised me with plot twists. I kept on saying "I didn't expect THAT to happen!"--this is the mark of a well-written film that captures your attention and never lets go.

The other even more pleasant surprise was the cast. The biggest star in the movie (currently) is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was a child actor in television's 3rd Rock from the Sun but more recently has become famous for his non-threatening boy-next-door good looks in (500) Days of Summer and my favorite film of 2010, Inception. Jacqueline Bisset is also in the film, as the older sage and "den mother" who owns a restaurant in West Hollywood where Christian works as a waiter alongside his roommate Julie, an aspiring singer. The actors playing Christian, Wes Ramsey, and Aaron, Steve Sandvoss, are both very attractive in theor own way. Ramsay has a very muscular, low-fat, smooth body and a handsome face while Sandvoss has a very fit and athletic body coupled with classic blonde hair and blue eyes and a permanently innocent expression. It's fun to watch movies when there "eye candy" on the screen!

The one detraction I would make about Latter Days, although I think this was intentional choice by the writer/director to broaden the movie's appeal is that it is trying to span multiple genres simultaneously, possibly too many at once. At different points it wants to be a musical about starving artists making it in the big city, an AIDS buddy film, a Romeo and Julio love story, a gritty drama about religion and homosexuality, a (gay) sex comedy and, finally, a heart-warming story about self-actualization. It's probably a good idea for a small film to be about just more than one thing, but trying to be too many things at once can lead to a bit of dissonance as the film switches rapidly between tones.

All in all Latter Days is a very enjoyable experience, very much worth renting.

Title: Latter Days.
Director: C. Jay Cox.
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content and language.
Release Date: July 10, 2003.
Viewing Date: September 24, 2011.

Plot: A.
Acting: B+.
Visuals: A.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: (3.75/4.0).

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