Wednesday, March 28, 2012

LLGFF: Gun Hill Road

Still from Gun Hill RoadHaven't seen much drama yet, but this ranks as the best so far. I was immediately intrigued as the title indicates the setting, a Latino neighbourhood in the Bronx, not too far from where I grew up.

Michael is a 17-year-old doing the usual teenaged stuff: dressing up, dating, going to nightclubs to do spoken word and attempting to transition by sneaking off to buy hormones from a local dealer. OK, not so typical. Add in two absent fathers (one biological and one chosen), and a mother who has her own secrets, and Michael aka Vanessa has a lot on her plate. When chosen dad Enrique (Esai Morales) is released from jail and returns home to find his little boy has changed, trouble is afoot.

Of course it all gets messy and the pot well and truly boils, but there are moments of comedy, as well, and Harmony Santana as Michael/Vanessa offers a very sweet vulnerability in the role, tentatively asking her boyfriend why he doesn't take her out, as promised. Esai Morales as the macho dad trying to understand, while dealing with his own compromised masculinity, is impressive. It doesn't seem that long ago he was playing the teenaged roles. How time flies.

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