Henry Gamble's Birthday Party full movie review - Wow!
I see a lot of films, and this is without a doubt one of the best I've seen in quite awhile.
It presents so beautifully how conformity and organized religion stifles and twists and how badly the real person in all of us wants to be recognized for who we really are. The performances are so spot-on that it's almost eerie; having grown up in a Midwestern family very similar to this one I felt as though I knew every one of the characters.
The plot involves Henry Gamble, whose father is a preacher, who is given his 17th birthday party by his family and friends. Henry is realizing he may be gay, and as the party progresses throughout the afternoon and night everyone begins to show the various struggles they also go through being human and trying to adhere to the rigid expectations they've created for themselves.
What I found so impressive about this film is that all of the characters are fine, likable people who care about each other. Some of them, particularly the adolescents, are much more accepting of their differences and support each other; others aren't capable of doing that, especially as beautifully illustrated by a bitter, fearful mother who refuses to let her repressed daughter enjoy any of the party and never lets her out of sight. The daughter is heartbreakingly portrayed, and the image I couldn't seem to shake after the film was over was her testing the water in a swimming pool, wanting so badly to dive in.
It appears that HGBP has been released to pay-per-view and isn't being considered for a general release to theaters. This is a very timely film for 2016 and it would benefit so many if this project could receive the exposure it deserved. It's depressing to think that "Captain America: Civil War" will be bringing in crowds this weekend but very few people will know a wonderful film like this even exists.
I hope Steven Cone, who also wrote the amazing screenplay, continues to have the opportunity to make films. This is someone to pay attention to, as he is clearly a talented guy.