Sunday, August 23, 2015

LGBT Movie Review: Gun Hill Road


After three years in prison, Enrique (Esai Morales) returns home to the Bronx to find the world he knew has changed. His wife, Angela (Judy Reyes), struggles to hide an emotional affair, and his teenage son, Michael (Harmony Santana), explores a sexual transformation well beyond Enrique's grasp and understanding. Unable to accept his child, Enrique clings to his masculine ideals while Angela attempts to hold the family together by protecting Michael. Still under the watchful eye of his parole officer (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), Enrique must become the father he needs to be or, once again, risk losing his family and freedom. Can a father's fierce love for his family overcome his street-hardened ideas about manhood and end the vicious cycle controlling his life?

My Review:

This debut film by writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green is absolutely stunning. This is by far one of the most raw, poignant, and true-to-life transgender films I've ever seen. Not to sound too partial since Harmony Santana has been a friend of mine for years, but this is the film where people took notice of her talent, and it's here where it truly shines in all its honesty and beauty. Nothing about her performance is subtle - it's pretty real. Harmony brought me to tears (and I rarely cry at movies). Where most movies centered around trans characters and their families rely on stereotypes, this one doesn't. And where most trans films also have it where the plot hinges entirely on the character's gender identity, this one focuses more on the family dynamic between a father unwilling to accept that his child is transgender. And it's pretty heavy. You can feel for Enrique's struggle for acceptance as much as you feel for Michael and her plight at taking each day at a time to become the person that she knows she is at heart. This isn't one of those movies that will spoon feed answers to you - it will make you cry and feel as it will ultimately make you think.

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