Christian, a hunky, 20-something, West Hollywood party boy gets more than he bargains for when he tries to seduce 19-year-old Elder Aaron Davis, a sexually confused Mormon missionary who moves into his apartment complex.
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This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.
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Excellent and certainly provocative... If nothing else, the film is a real conversation starter.
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All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters.
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Why does every gay movie have to turn into a p0rn0 midway through Seriously, can we not once have a PG-13 rated gay romance?Otherwise, the story is interesting in that it gives us a window into the gay Mormon issue. The conflict is well-played out. Some lines that the actors had to say were cheesy as hell, though; like, was this written by a teenager, or what? Ending was a bit cheesy too, but leaves a nice feel-good impression, so it's adequate at what it does.
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I stumbled upon this film just a couple of days ago and it's stayed with me ever since. I've already watched it twice.One thing I like VERY much about "Latter Days" is that it has a happy ending. So many gay-themed films, even when revolving around romance, end in death or disillusionment. It's refreshing to witness a portrayal of a gay couple who, despite a great deal of conflict and major obstacles, find true love and a future together. It DOES happen in real life and, to that end, the film is as "realistic" as any tragedy.Many of the actors deserve mention: Wes Ramsey as Christian, the gay party boy, is excellent. Jacqueline Bissett, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mary Kay Place and Erik Palladino bring something special to their smaller roles. But it is Steve Sandvoss who knocks it out of the park as Elder Aaron Davis, the sweet, shy Mormon missionary who comes to terms with his homosexuality amid the confines of the LDS beliefs.The film is clichéd, no question, but no more so than many romantic movies. If your taste veers toward complete realism, this isn't the film for you. "Latter Days" is basically a drama, but it does contain its share of comedic moments. I myself am not, nor ever have been, a member of the Mormon church, but I have spent a good deal of time around it and have had a number of LDS friends. While I have a certain amount of genuine respect for the church, I would be lying if I said that the portrayals of the Mormon missionaries and families in this film do not ring true.There are a few unbelievable moments, to be sure. As an example, when Christian confronts Elder Ryder about Aaron's whereabouts, Ryder gives in and tells Christian about Aaron's five-hour layover in Salt Lake City. In reality, no missionary with such a lack of sympathy toward "fags" would suddenly soften enough to give out this information."Latter Days" may not be one of the great films of all time, but it brings to light the complex problems that can exist between organized religion, families and homosexuality, with pathos and sensitivity, along with a tug at the heartstrings. For that, it is more than commendable.
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Saw this years ago and recently bought the title on blu-ray as a TLA Select title and appreciate the enhanced picture clarity: I recommend it.There have not been a lot of additional gay/Mormon films since this one, but there has been the Mormon support of Proposition 8 in California, and the film about it: 8, The Mormon Proposition. And there have been some books: Perfect by Joseph Dallin, about a really dedicated Mormon boy who deals with his homosexuality, No Going Back by Jonathan Langford, who is a married, BYU Mormon who seemingly wrote the book as a warning to gay Mormon youth, and Hard Fall by James Buchanan about a gay Mormon park ranger who risks everything for a handsome stranger.Because Latter Days is a romance, you know that it will work out in the end. The stage is set for Aaron's punishment when, in the restaurant, shock therapy is mentioned in the case of another Mormon. The extras on the BD flesh out the film nicely. The famous mother's slap was surprisingly vicious in the filmed take, we learn, and was a surprise to Steve Sandvoss/Aaron.The gay shorts worn by Wes Ramsey/Christian are beyond weird, but the film works because there is chemistry between the leads, though both are straight in real life. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who originally auditioned for another role, stuck around to put in an awesome performance as Elder Ryder. All in all a remarkable effort.
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As subject matter for a film, the confluence of religion and homosexuality is thought-provoking. Just as evolution served as the divisive "third rail" of American theology in the 20th century, the "science vs scripture" angst surrounding human sexual orientation is once again challenging and fracturing religious institutions. C Jay Cox attempts to build a romance within the context of this conflict in his semi-autobiographical "Latter Days". The result is mixed, falling more so on the liabilities side of the ledger. The premise is noble and intriguing. The execution? not so much.Perhaps it was Cox's financial success with the major studio hit "Sweet Home Alabama" that compromised his efforts to deliver a convention-breaking indie film. Instead, many derivative elements are incorporated in an obvious bid to create a "crossover" hit. Concurrently, the sexually graphic scenes ultimately sabotage any effort to capture that same mainstream (read straight) audience.In the same way that reading requires active thought--and TV passive--commercial films marketed to mass audiences tend to possess a heavy-handed instructional quality in which the viewer is largely "guided" by the film maker as to how they should view--and react to---the material presented. The supposition is that the audience is not astute enough to grasp subtlety and ambiguity. Cox unnecessarily falls into this snare with "Latter Days". We are fed every imaginable plot device to illustrate how immersed in the clichéd "gay urban culture" co-protagonist Christian is (the outlandish outfits, the gym as religion, parade of anonymous sex partners, AIDS charity) and how diabolical the Mormon church is (the inquisitorial panel, reparative therapy, homophobic missionaries). The series of "interconnected" kismet coincidences, while a thoughtful theme of the film, are overplayed to the point that the viewer is eventually required to completely abandon reality.The tired depiction of Los Angeles as a vast, soulless weigh station where miserable pretty people are forced to demean themselves for a chance at success is once again marched out. This is the self-indulgent, narcissistic perception of LA created by--and for--folks involved in the ego-driven entertainment industry. The reality is the vast majority of the city is comprised of millions of everyday people working everyday jobs who have little or no connection to show biz. Consequently, this group of friends appears conspicuously disconnected from the working class, predominantly Latino neighborhood of Echo Park in which the story is set. The musical scenes and backdrops feature songs performed by Rebekah Jordan (who portrays Julie, Christian's "fruit fly" roommate) and tunes penned by Cox. The sheer volume of insufferably bad music so overwhelms the story, it threatens to reduce the film to a vanity project designed to promote their respective recording careers. The one appropriate and emotion-tinged exception is the inclusion of the hymn "Abide with Me", which doesn't involve contributions from either party. Lost amongst the affectations and musical claptrap is character development. We are provided glimpses into the chemistry between compassionate, naïve, cerebral, and impossibly handsome Aaron (Sandvoss) and demonstrative, randy Christian (Ramsey). The interaction in the laundry room, Christian's initial offensive attempt at seduction, and their first kiss provide some insight into the unrealized potential of a "Romeo & Julian" story in which two young men from opposite worlds are inexorably attracted to each other. These scenes are all too brief and the romance is never fully explored. When the relationship instantly morphs from "it was just a kiss" (Christian's words) into ethereal love within one scene, the viewer is left with a sense of longing as to how and why they arrived there.Sandvoss and Ramsey turn in uneven performances. Apologists could reason this is the result of weak dialogue and poor direction, rather than lack of talent. Sandvoss is a natural while portraying the reserved, polite, boyish traits of Aaron, and he and Ramsey make an aesthetically stunning couple. However, when required to stretch emotionally---particularly in the confrontation scene with his mother Gladys (Mary Kay Place)---Sandvoss' performance is amateurish. The sole box office "veteran" recruited for the project, Jacqueline Bisset (as restaurateur Lila) is not exempt from misfires either. Her breakdown scene at the hospital is embarrassingly unconvincing, and novice Sandvoss actually handles the scene more competently than she. Notwithstanding, Bisset's elegance is a compliment to the cast. "Latter Days" is flawed, but certainly worth a view. However, a few years later, Robert Cary tackled similar subject matter with Chad Allen, Judith Light, and Robert Gant much more effectively in his 2007 film "Save Me".