Defying the odds, "I Do" is one of the few "mainstream" gay films of recent years that gets it right. With good actors, a nice script, and lovely direction, "I Do" doesn’t have the feel of a typical gay film that usually feels thrown together with a director’s best friends and filmed in their own apartments. "I Do" looks like a professional Hollywood production complete with glossy stylized cinematography by David Maurice Gil and professional actors that know how to play it realistically.
While the film bites off a bit more than it can chew thematically, it delivers a complex story with no easy answers. It involves a gay British photographer named Jack (David W. Ross, who also wrote the script) that finds that he is losing his immigration status and will have to leave the country. His only option is to marry a U.S. citizen. When he proposes this to his best lesbian pal Ali (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), the two get hitched. But complications ensue which threaten to break many of Jack’s relationships apart.
Thankfully, the marriage between Jack and Ali isn’t one of whacky hi-jinx and prat-falls. This isn’t a "Will and Grace" concept gone awry where Ali falls for gay Jack or a slip of the tongue causes the two to be investigated in a hilarious interrogation scene. It has more depth than that and because of this, the complications are that much more realistic and intricate. Throughout the film, Jack falls for a Spaniard named Mano (Maurice Compte), continues to take care of his late-brother’s widow Mya (Alicia Witt) and daughter Tara (Jessica Brown), and tries to balance all of that with his friendship and marriage-of-convenience to Ali.
This is a film where any number of characters is selfish, and it’s that selfishness that needs to be tamed for any of these people to truly find peace with themselves. This isn’t a film that ends everything in a neat little bow, for as satisfying as parts of it are, there is still heartbreak a-plenty. Just as in real life.
Director Glenn Gaylord does a beautiful job with his actors never once allowing them to steer into that over-acting screech often seen in indie-gay films. Sigler and Witt both create difficult characters that have their good and bad qualities, and each get a moment to show off their chops. Little Jessica Brown (last seen in "Paranormal Activity 3") is adorable and natural as Mya’s daughter, never once falling into Disney cute-kid syndrome. And Ross proves himself a compelling and handsome leading man, avoiding the gay stereotypes and clichés so often projected onto screen.
He is more like what most gay men are; just a guy living his life, making mistakes, and trying to clean up the mess and make himself a better person in the process. In a film that strives to illustrate the drastic differences between straight marriage and gay marriage, and the red-tape difficulties in staying in a country you are thriving in, it’s nice to have a character that reflects a more common example of the gay experience. In fact, the film steers clear of those "see what we must go through" moments. There are no big "gay bashing" scenes. There isn’t a coming-out subplot. This is a modern gay story that feels as real and true as any number of "straight" films that invade theatres on a weekly basis.
The script by Ross is well formed and the characters have natural rhythms to how they talk. While I felt there was one misstep in a character’s choice that didn’t totally work for me, it’s easily overlooked when the rest of the film is so well presented. Sure, the film might not be as daring as some other offerings on the gay film-fest circuit this year, but it’s the film that feels the most able to crossover into mainstream markets. Gaylord doesn’t overdo the beefcake nudity shots even with a stunner in the cast like Ross.
This makes the film feel more mature and less calculated than what we’ve seen in the past where heavy-handed nudity and broad comedy is used to get gay boy’s asses in theater seats. This is a gay man’s mainstream movie. It might be a wee bit on the" Lifetime for Gays" side, but the filmmaking makes it rise above. And that is something to be thankful for.
This article is part of our "FilmOut San Diego 2013" series. Want to read more?
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