Christian Walker, Billie Worley, Jim Eikner
Mark Jones, Ryan Parker
QC Cinema/Breaking Glass Pictures
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Jason Potts (Christian Walker) is out, proud, and living in New York after having long ago left his bigoted Tennessee hometown behind. When Jason returns to his hometown due to a family emergency, he quickly learns that not much has changed for the area's LGBT youth. He decides he'd like to do something to help them while he's there for the weekend, but before long it all goes much further than he'd ever planned when he's roped into heading up the small town's first ever gay pride parade IF the town's very homophobic mayor and city leaders.
Of course, they will. They will be because their plan is to use the event to identify the community's gays in an effort to round up the gays after the parade and send them off to one of those "camps" that will help relieve them of their sinful ways.
While Tennessee Queer is filled to the brim with Southern cliche's, it also possesses a quiet charm and hints of Southern-tinged fare from the likes of Del Shores and Leslie Jordan without quite as much bite and spark. Tennessee Queer was nominated for the Jury Award from the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi, and has been referred to by at least one critic as "Mayberry LGBT." I have to admit that's a great line and it's not far from the truth!
Directed by Tennessee filmmaker Mark Jones, Tennessee Queer may not go that deeply into the issues surrounded the bigoted nature of the small town where all its action occurs but it does build an involving story that draws you in, inspires you, and doesn't cheapen its story by tossing in unnecessary distractions. The film is serious, but it also possesses a gentle and winning sense of humor and humanity guided by a performance by Christian Walker that is warm and believable.
I've read that Jones financed the film out of his own funds, and Tennessee Queer has that sort of indie sensibility that wisely avoids the usual Hollywood trappings and melodramatic conclusions. Is it a masterpiece? No. Are production values really what you're used to when you hit the multi-plex? Nope.
With Tennessee Queer, you'll get an indie filmmaker's artistic vision of a story that feels like it was at least a little bit personal to him. The film possesses heart, humor, and a down home spirit that feels honest and well-earned. If you get a chance, check it out.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic