Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Eden

Big Eden has the distinction of being my mother's favorite film ever from the Frameline festivals; in fact, it's one of only a very few I've ever gotten her to watch. Henry (Arye Gross, "Ellen") is an artist in New York City, looking forward to his big gallery opening with a level of enthusiasm usually reserved for root canals. The day before, he gets a call from Big Eden, his home town in the mountains of Montana, that his grandfather is dying, so he flies back, much to the dismay of his agent. He ends up staying for several months to care for "Sampa," and reconnects with some old friends, including his high-school crush Dean and the inscrutable Pike, now the owner of the general store. Henry is preoccupied with Dean, who is now divorced with two kids; in the mean time, Henry is oblivious to Pike's steady interest. The small town turns out to be very different from the redneck hellhole one might imagine, and it seems that the biggest obstacle to Henry's coming out is himself. It's a beautiful story, told flawlessly, down to the smallest details of plot, dialogue, costumes, and props. All of the major characters give award-worthy performances, and the film more than earned its thunderous standing ovation the first time it screened at the Castro, 2000-06-22. Definitely a MUST SEE, and a must for your DVD collection.

Big Eden, dir. Thomas Bezucha, 2000 USA 117 min.; view the trailer

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