THE GREEN - The Accusation Is All That MattersOctober 20, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE GREEN (FilmBuff).
When times get tough, liberal acceptance and tolerance take the first hit…
By Cynthia Kane
The story we follow in THE GREEN goes something like this: 30-something writer Michael Gavin (Jason Butler Harner, who could play Hugh Jackman’s brother – he should!) and his partner Daniel (Cheyenne Jackson from GLEE, 30 ROCK) have chosen to escape the asphalt of New York City and live along the green of the Connecticut shores. Michael takes a teaching job at a private and self-proclaimed progressive high school and Daniel opens up a local, sustainable eatery.
They live as an openly gay couple, consider getting married, but don’t feel rushed given the length of their solid relationship. Life, complete with Victorian house and dog Abigail, is pretty near perfect until Michael, after breaking up a brutal encounter of bullying, is accused of inappropriate behavior with the targeted student, a troubled teen-aged boy whose self-sabotaging is about to get him thrown out of this privileged school.
The kid’s rough-trade parents accuse Michael of sexual misconduct. Yardley School immediately suspends Michael from his teaching duties and all but a few turn against him overnight. Blatant homophobia rears its ugly head – nothing like leaving the ‘real’ progressiveness of the city and trying to live a simpler suburban life. But in comes smart, tough lesbian civil rights lawyer, Karen (Julia Ormond) who quickly recognizes that money and not their son’s welfare are at the heart of this case. Michael’s WASP-y stiff-upper lip and overly generous ethical values – he insists this boy is in real trouble and it’s not his fault - lead a now frustrated Daniel to leave in a fury. It seems this happens all very quickly - it could be in the course of a few days or over a few weeks – hard to tell.
While the script is really nothing more than an old-fashioned melodrama, and the story feels a bit dated – like this could been a lot more powerful, more impactful, say if it had been released mid-1990’s. Sadly, per the media, we all know these kinds of stories all too well. But what’s important here is the reminder that while LGBTq issues have come a long way, until homophobia and prejudice cease to exist, these stories – whether in film, on stage or in documentary, are important to tell. They remind us of the very long way we as a society have to go. True tolerance and true acceptance are never achieved overnight.
While some of the characters are written rather stereotypically, such as the troubled kid”s poor, formerly drug addicted parents - who incidentally met in rehab, the kid in question who got the scholarship to go to this elite school, et cetera, there is also remarkable subtlety and nuance which makes me consider that first-time screenwriter, Paul Marcarelli has viable talent and hopefully will continue to develop it.
No one, not even our very handsome and picture perfect main characters, is without fault, without judgment. Everyone is human and makes big mistakes, keeps secrets. And as this affluent small town in the Connecticut shore is hit by the economic crisis and other current problems, facing all of us, as they slowly feel the loss of their sense of privilege, they drop their progressive outlook, and it’s everyman for himself.
The script feels like it might have been adapted from a stage play – I am not at all sure that it is, I don’t think so. What makes it work is the top quality of its cast. They are all veteran stage actors, who also work in film and television; the cast includes not only Jason Butler Harner, Cheyenne Jackson, but heavy hitters like Julia Ormond, Illeana Douglas, Karen Young, Bill Sage, Mark Blum, Mary McCann, Boris McGiver, Marcia DeBonis – solid, authentic performances from all giving this an ensemble feel rather than an independent film where only one or two actors stand out.
THE GREEN was directed by Steven Williford – an Emmy nominated direct known primarily for the iconic soap, ALL MY CHILDREN -, produced and written by actor Paul Marcarelli, produced by Molly Pearson. Pearson and Marcarelli founded the independent production company, Table Ten Films in 2009 to "seek out, develop, and promote the work of artists communicating from unique, diverse and under-represented perspectives." This is the first of many other films to come.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
Look for THE GREEN (FilmBuff) under your cable system's On Demand section.
Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:
AMBER LAKE - RISK IT
QUEEN TO PLAY - DEMAND IT
VIPS - RISK IT
Thomas Vinterberg's SUBMARINO - DEMAND IT
Michelle Williams In MEEK'S CUTOFF - DEMAND IT
Vincent Gallo Is Back With ESSENTIAL KILLING - DEMAND IT
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS - DEMAND IT
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM - DEMAND IT
DEAR ALICE - DEMAND IT
KAREN CRIES ON THE BUS - DEMAND IT