2022, Drama/Lgbtq+, 1h 40m
Rating:R (Violence|Language Throughout|Some Nudity|Sexual Content)
Genre: Drama, Lgbtq+
Original Language: English
Director: Elegance Bratton
Producer: Chester Algernal Gordon, Effie Brown
Writer: Elegance Bratton
Stars: Jeremy Pope, Gabrielle Union, Bokeem Woodbine
Release Date (Theaters): Nov 18, 2022, Limited
When watching this film, I am reminded of an Anthropology class that I took when returning to school later in life to garner a degree. The lesson that day was about the animal kingdom and how it travels in groups, but if the group deems that there is something wrong with one of the animals in the pack, they kick that animal out, leaving it to fend for itself.
In the animal kingdom, they deem the animal slowing down the progress of the pack/community as a whole. Usually, the animal dies or is killed in the wild, but more often than not, it finds a sense of community with other animals who were also kicked out of other packs.
I immediately thought of the Black community when I heard that and how we treat gay and lesbian people in the race. This is exactly what also happens in this film. Gabrielle Union is truly transformed and does a remarkable job as a bitter, heartless, and selfish mother of a son who, when he discloses to her that he is gay, kicks him out of the house at 16, leaving him to fend for himself on the streets for ten years.
He pays her a visit as a homeless man, and all that he wants is his birth certificate so that he can join the Marines as the last hope of having a life for himself besides living on the streets. But even that is asking too much of her.
His mother reluctantly gives him his birth certificate, but she is obviously repulsed by him and his “choice” to be gay. Gabrielle plays the role so well that it’s easy to notice the subtle but harsh nuances of her actions as she goes over to her small stove in her cramped apartment and eats a fork full of black-eyed peas from a pan and doesn’t even ask her son if he is hungry as he looks disheveled from living on the streets and attempts to sit on her couch, during a rare visit. She jumps to protect her couch by placing newspapers on it, indicating that she is more concerned about her furniture than her own son.
This movie is heartbreaking but, at the same time, riveting and deeply tragic because his own mother is his greatest enemy. She is the one who exhibits mental distress and is in dire need of therapy as she lays the weight of the world on her son because he didn’t turn out the way she wanted him to.
With all this in mind, he continues to pursue the mere possibility of validation and love from her with undying, tireless, and useless angst. When he goes into the Marines, he has another set of discriminatory circumstances, including a Seargent who attempts to drown him (Bokeem Woodbine) during training but he continues to pursue his goal of making something of his life.
Unfortunately, the writer and director, Elegance Bratton, was not able to stay for a question-and-answer segment after the movie. Still, he did reveal that his mother died three days after the movie was green-lit by A24 studios.
Nevertheless, there were a few questions I specifically had for him, like, who took care of his mother when she was dying? Did he ever have a relationship with her? What happened to him after the Marines? Where was his father? Did he have any other family? What was it like to direct your own tragic life story? And most importantly, “Why did you keep going back, allowing her to continue to be a destructive force in your life? ”