-The year’s first rental revisit is a crime drama that shows an undiscovered part of abject poverty and a drama that studies one of the strangest conversions in recent memory.
Normally, when you hear about poverty, it all comes from the inner-cities, and various stereotypes that accompany whatever side of the aisle you are politically. However, not many people talk about the kind of poverty that occurs in rural areas, families living in run-down shacks or trailers on random plots of land, miles away from any chance to earn a living. Although this film takes place in the UK, its message carries over to any Western nation, and shows a similar difficulty that a crime lifestyle presents for an impoverished family in a rural area as opposed to an urban one.
The film shows an Irish family that has a history of crime: robbing banks, stealing cars, and tricking police in order to live a life they believe is comfortable. The patriarch (Brendan Gleeson) is trying to continue their lifestyle, but his son (Michael Fassbender) is trying to get away from their trailer community and get a house in town. Fassbender’s son (Georgie Smith) takes more to his grandfather’s vision than his father’s, and it starts a huge family showdown that threatens their competitive, but small, crime empire.
Trespass Against Us was a very small production, picking up some steam at TIFF mainly because of the two lead actors, but was a straight to VOD release in the U.S. this January. Most of it was shot on location in the UK, and the film does a really good job in setting up the kind of lifestyle that our characters live in. In terms of what the film really does well, there’s a really strong environment built by director Adam Smith. The plot is a bit loose, but is bolstered by Gleeson and Fassbender, and a few police chase sequences that feel randomly thrown into the plot, but are thrilling anyway. The movie has a nice style, and although it’s not always dramatically potent, it’s clearly unique. I would definitely consider renting it on Amazon or On-Demand if you have a free night, mainly because it shows a part of society that doesn’t get a ton of coverage.
Trespass Against Us (2017)
Director: Adam Smith (Episodes of: ‘Doctor Who,’ and ‘Skins’)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Georgie Smith, and Sean Harris
RT Score: 57%
I Am Michael is the true story of Michael Glatze, a titan of the gay community who was involved in the publishing of a famous documentary, as well as two successful magazines for gay youth. After a health scare, he turns to Christianity, renounces his homosexuality, marries a woman, and becomes a priest.
James Franco plays Glatze, and Zachary Quinto plays his boyfriend Bennett, as they move away from their positions at XY Magazine, a gay outlet, and go up to Canada for Bennett to accept a job. There, they inspire a local youth Tyler (Charlie Carver), and exist proudly in their lifestyle. However, Glatze begins experiencing heart palpitations, and begins to doubt whether his homosexuality can be reconciled with his Christian faith. After a period of soul searching (including an odd Colorado retreat stop with Avan Jogia), Glatze moves away from his boyfriend and lifestyle as a gay community leader, joining up with the Church and learning to become a pastor. In school, he meets his future wife Rebekah (Emma Roberts), and ends up speaking out against the community that he propped up for years.
Initially, members of the LGBTQ community here in the U.S. were skeptical of this movie, mainly because they didn’t want to normalize two huge issues they experience with the more conservative side of the political spectrum. First, they didn’t want their sexuality to be definite as a lifestyle choice, as Glatze seems to suggest, and second, they didn’t want to encourage the fact that faith and soul searching will lead one away from being gay, and into a more “acceptable” lifestyle, such that Christianity and homosexuality cannot be reconciled. My response to this is that they should just watch the movie. The topics are handled even-handedly, and all parties involved clearly try to tell the story as down-the-middle as possible.
James Franco does great work here, and it may be his best performance since 127 Hours. Sure, it’s an undiscovered role, but he does a lot of scenes alone, and carries the movie based on his internal struggle becoming external for the audience to relate to it. He powerfully acts his way through the movie, and is supported by solid looks from Quinto, Jogia, and Emma Roberts. For such a sticky and complex topic to deal with, Franco does a good job just playing the role, and not letting any personal agenda affect how it is made. So much so, in fact, that the real Glatze watched the film and enjoyed it, sending Franco a thank-you email after watching the film. That’s all you need to know in deciding whether or not this movie is too “offensive.” All parties involved wanted to make sure that it was a solid telling of a complex story, and it was pulled off nicely.
I Am Michael (2017)
Director: Justin Kelly (King Cobra)
Starring: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, Charlie Carver, and Avan Jogia
RT Score: 66%