I'm sitting here in my home having just watched Edgar Michael Bravo's latest film, A Young Man's Future.
It's the 15th anniversary of THE 9/11.
I suppose I can't help but view A Young Man's Future through this lens, because 9/11 was one of those life experiences that seems to color everything we think, everything we see and everything we do.
You might think it's a bad thing, but it's not. It's really, really not.
While 9/11 will always be and should always be known for the horrific, unfathomable tragedy that it was, I will always see something else when I think of 9/11.
I will always think of love. I will always think of those who rushed in, sacrificing their lives, when everyone else was trying desperately to get out.
I will always think of strangers helping strangers. I will always think of a community somehow pulling together against nearly insurmountable odds and refusing to break.
I will always think of light within the darkness, hope against the futility of it all and love somehow being strong enough to survive against unimaginable evil.
The story in A Young Man's Future isn't one of global impact, though certainly it touches on issues of global importance. The story in A Young Man's Future is deeply personal, intimate and yet no less weaving in these themes of light within darkness and hope against the futility of it all.
Jeremy (Jordan Becker) and Scott (Taylor Clift) are two college students trying to navigate their way through the last year of college, Jeremy just coming out of a painful relationship with Elliott (Jacob Fortner) and Scott a quiet, seemingly different young man who is loving on a level Jeremy hasn't experienced. With a relationship that is growing, Jeremy decides to introduce Scott to his parents (Richard Roddy and Nancy Daly), an introduction that doesn't go well when Scott inexplicably has some sort of a break and ends up hospitalized as a result.
The diagnosis, you might guess from this review's headline, is schizophrenia, a disease that in the United States is known to affect approximately 1 in 100 persons. You may know it, or at least you may know its stereotype. Fortunately for all of us, Bravo, at least for the most part, avoids stereotype and instead gives us an honest, simple and straightforward of one man's journey with the illness and that illness's impact on his family relationships and romantic relationship.
A Young Man's Future is a realistic yet hopeful film, a film that recognizes and honors the impact of mental illness on a relationship yet also a film that weaves hope into the story in a way that feels honest and authentic. While I had some issues with another film of Bravo's, Mother's Red Dress, and its handling of domestic violence, A Young Man's Future approaches its subject matter in more subtle and less obvious ways.
The performances are uniformly strong, most notably our co-leads. Becker and Clift make for a believable coupling, yet they also wisely weave the dynamics of their relationship in such a way that everything that unfolds feels realistic and honest. Jacob Fortner's Elliott is portrayed as human, neither a good guy nor a bad guy, which also helps strengthen the story's evolution. Both Richard Roddy and Nancy Daly are strong in supporting roles, while Derek S. Orr shines as Scott's father.
A Young Man's Future could have so easily gone paint-by-numbers in dealing with mental illness. It could have also easily been too caught up in dealing with the additional challenges of being gay and dealing with family systems and systems of healthcare. Wisely, Bravo has instead allowed a simple, honest story to be simply and honestly told. The end result is an important film that provides discussion points for consideration and reason to reflect long after the closing credits have rolled.
For more information on A Young Man's Future, visit the No Restrictions Entertainment website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic