Thursday, February 23, 2012

"An Angel Named Billy" is just that!

An Angel Named Billy”, as a title recalls the 1950s film, “A Man Called Peter,” about a progressive Scottish born pastor (Peter Marshall), a film I saw as a boy with my mother, who passed away at 97 a little more than a year ago.  Eldercare was a difficult experience for me, and I had the experience of hiring caregivers, through agencies, and dealing with the dynamics in my own distant way.

But in this 2007 film by Greg Osborne, Billy (Dustin Belt) is a young gay man, just turned 18 and handsome, who gets thrown out of his California valley farm home by his divorced alcoholic father when “caught” kissing a male friend.  Billy hitches to Los Angeles and has to make it on his own with his wits.  But it quickly becomes clear that Billy is very unusual in his ability to deal with people just as he finds them.  He almost seems Christ-like, facing temptation and pushing it aside.

He finds a job opening as a live-in caregiver for a man about 65 (Mark [Richard Lewis Warren],  with severe stroke aftermath, to relieve his fortyish son James (Hank Fields).  The film never mentions the idea that James could have hired through agencies and never deals with the legal questions of employing people in the home.  In the job interview, Billy says “I think I could do this job” – which is not what you say in a real interview – but he gets the job.  Billy bonds to the nearly paralyzed man, actually having fun with the job, and even can relate to the homeless man in the park in the LA-view scene. He seems ready to “Follow Me” as in the Bible.
James invites Billy to a party, where someone upsets Billy by comparing him to a “nurse” – not knowing that nursing is one of the best fields today for job opportunities.  James comforts Billy, and admits he is falling in love with Billy. The conversation is remarkable.  Billy talks about having "fun with Dad", and then later says he has never known what it is liked to be loved before. 

The film has other characters, including Todd (Brent Battles), a drag queen with total alopecia when not in costume, who has intermittently filled in with the caregiving, and Billy’s mother (Allison Fleming).  She catches up with him and is wonderful, but why didn’t she have custody in the first place.  There is a vulnerable younger brother.  And James has an ex who, destroyed by drugs, tries to come back into the loop.

The scenes in the film tend to be drawn out (to a two hour length);  studio films keep a plot like this moving faster.  But at the end, it gets telescoped, and one could speculate that James and Billy took advantage of the window period before Prop 8.

I would want Billy to go to college and probably to nursing school (or med school if possible).

The official site is here. The DVD has several extras in which the director explains the process of making the film on a very limited budget. He says he ran into homophobia in the post processing. 

The DVD had a bump at about the one hour mark, so I had to watch one section online at Netflix. The streaming was full-screen size, and the1.85:1 DVD seems to crop the top and bottom slightly, which really matters in one mildly intimate scene. 

Clearwater Entertainment’s trailer (no embed). 

Angels are said to be "messengers" from God.  We don't know where they come from, but they seem physical and immortal.  In this movie, Billy looks just about perfect. 

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