"Latter Days" Is the Hit Movie at L.A. OUTFEST
Latter Days: A
SLC theater pulls LDS, gay movie
Official movie site
Movie City News Story
By Gary Booher
"Latter Days" was the clear favorite at this year's OUTFEST - L.A. Gay
& Lesbian Film Festival. The day of the screening (July 17) the Los Angeles
Times featured the film with the headline "Love and Faith in Conflict",
and said: "Screenwriter C. Jay Cox ('Sweet Home Alabama') makes a heart-wrenching
directorial debut with 'Latter Days', which will surely rank among OUTFEST's
strongest offerings. It's an all-stops-out heart-tugger for sure, but
its emotional wallop is earned honestly and uncompromisingly... Cox opens
up the contradiction between faith and doctrine that seems to many gay
people the near-universal affliction of organized religion. What develops
is enough for a Douglas Sirk movie, but like Sirk, Cox knows how to make
these elements work in telling a sweepingly romantic story."
Despite the hype, I went that night expecting to be its worst critic. After all, how plausible is a story where a West Hollywood guy seduces a Mormon missionary who lives next door in WeHo? Would the story be credible when we all know that missionary companions are inseparable? Also, I feared that it would be a light fluff joke with little that matched our lives as Gay Mormons.
The 1,200 seat theater was sold out and filled beyond capacity as THE
movie that everyone wanted to see. Yes, the plot situation was initially
implausible, but once I got beyond that question mark I realized that
I was experiencing something miraculous. One of the reasons I go to 30+
films at OUTFEST each year is to see our lives on the big screen. But
never did I expect to see it so poignantly shown with such depth about
so much that was my life as a Gay Mormon.
For most people it was the great gay romance of the year, and that it
was, but for some of us we cheered and sobbed as we watched with both
wonder and pain. Although not absolutely pure in every detail, the film
achieved the essence of our lives, as well as incredible detail about
church and family dynamics and right on down to the look-alike garments
and the number present for an excommunication court. It was so realistic
that it was scary. I felt exposed as the particulars of my experience
and of others I know was brazenly spread across the big screen for all
to behold. I could tell you more about the story, but that would ruin
the journey you should experience for yourself.
Afterwards, during closing credits, the film received a prolonged standing
ovation from absolutely EVERYONE, no easy feat considering that the L.A.
gay and lesbian audience is a tough crowd, many of whom work in the film
and television industry. And on Awards night it received the highest audience
voted honor as the "HBO Outstanding First Narrative Feature" (yes, that
HBO, who kicked in the only cash prize of the evening).
This is a movie that absolutely EVERY Church member should see, although not all of us would take our mothers due to brief scenes with nudity and sex. But for those you can bring, you will be rewarded for the journey about our lives of faith versus who we love.
P.S.: Watch for "Angels in America" on HBO this December, starring Meryl
Streep, Emma Thompson, Mary Louise Parker, and others.