Latter Days

Latter Days is winning awards at Gay and Lesbian film festivals all over the country, even though as a film, it's not that great. This encapsulates the state of gay cinema; in general, it is not that good. Latter Days is a step in the right direction, since the characters have more depth and feel more human than they do in other genre films. This film carries a certain amount of controversy with it, since it involves a gay member of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. It's a very personal film for first time director C. Jay Cox (who wrote Sweet Home Alabama and The Thing in Bob's Garage), who is a gay lapsed Mormon. Latter Days tries to look at both sides of the issue, but still manages fill itself with cliched characters and situations.

Elder Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss) is a newbie missionary, direct from Idaho to the crazy world of Los Angeles. His first day there he meets Christian (Wesley A. Ramsey, Way Off Broadway), his very gay neighbor. Christian is buffed, handsome, dresses flamboyantly and has a casual attitude towards sex. He cares little for emotions, or other pesky things like that, and just wants some good gay booty. He makes a bet with some of his coworkers that he can seduce one of his new Mormon neighbors, and eyes Aaron as his target.

As a devout Mormon, Aaron is repulsed by the idea of homosexuality. He is gay, but struggling with reconciling his sexuality with his religious beliefs. Meeting somebody like Christian forces him to confront his feelings, and at one point, they almost consummate their relationship, which forces the plot into motion. Christian forces Aaron to think seriously about his sexuality, and Aaron forces Christian to think about his superficiality. The Christian character is the reason to watch Latter Days. Ramsey overshadows Sandvoss as Christian, who needs to rethink nearly everything about how he lives his life. He's young, so he's never had to think about anything too deep before, but now that Aaron pointed out how pointless his life is, he realizes he needs something deeper, and that something is Aaron.

While he does a good job with Christian's personal struggle, Cox is never able to make Aaron's struggle seem that realistic. It's odd, because Aaron is presumably the main character. He is distraught for a little while, then has a quick about face that is not in line with his character. The other supporting characters are worse. They are all flat and one-dimensional, usually stereotypical in some fashion, whether they be Aaron's intolerant family or friends, or Christian's friends, who are the opposite. Storywise, these familiar characters lend themselves to familiar situations, and it's fairly obvious where Cox is taking his story. The Mormon setting is not that necessary to the film, although it does lend a very personal feel to Latter Days, and does tend to make the situation more volatile given the Mormon church's stance on homosexuality.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Not Rated but contains language, nudity, and sexual situtaions, would probably be an NC-17 but should be an R.

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