Wednesday, April 06, 2016

"Redwoods": a male couple, raising an autistic boy, needs a secret stranger (and his "resurrection") to carry on

Redwoods” (2009), directed by David Lewis, is a gentle gay “love triangle” story with a couple of surprising twists (maybe borderline sci-fi), and some relevance to other films and artists.

As the film opens, we see a preview: the main character, aspiring novelist Chase (Matthew Montgomery) visits an outdoor park in a natural redwoods amphitheater in northern California (Humboldt County). Then the film switches to Everett (Brendan Bradley) and slightly older lover Miles (Tad Coughenour). The male couple (the film was shot a little before marriage would have been legal) has been raising Miles’s biological autistic son Billy (Caleb Dorfman), who is emotionally bonded to Everett, almost to the point that he might break out of autism with a second dad. But the couple has lost sexual interest, staying together for the kid.

Bur Miles and Billy go on vacation to San Francisco, and Miles, a bit bossy, expects Everett to fix some problems around the house while still running his business at home as a tax accountant. Soon, Chase shows up, looking for directions to the bed and breakfast in town.  Predictably, they start seeing each other and fall in love.  And, also predictably, Miles sometimes calls and then comes back early.

Chase has journeyed from Minnesota to write his novel, “Lost in Faith”, based on a small fictitious town in North Dakota where Chase grew up (see yesterday’s post).  Everett says he took creative writing at Stanford and reads the manuscripts.  Sometimes Everett finds the writing forced and sentimental. It seems odd to talk about “becoming a writer”, because writing is something you do.
When Everett learns Miles will return, he plans to leave town early, but makes a pact with Everett for them to see each other in five years.

There's a great quote, where Everett mistakenly chides Chase about his writing, "Most of us don't have the luxury of wandering around trying to find ourselves."  Sure, Everett is helping raise another man's disabled child.

What will happen then is a bit tragic, but then there is the idea of resurrection, maybe as in Jorge Ameer’s “The House of Adam” (March 12, 2012 review), which loops back to how the film begins, creating the possibility of a supernatural interpretation. Everett himself is reborn, and one hopes that somehow benefits the kid.

The deleted scenes, however, left a confusing picture of what exactly happens when Miles returns. I do think that DVD’s could be made playable as “director’s cuts” with all the deleted scenes included in the right sequence (the movie would go from 90 minutes to 105, still about average).

The interview featurette indicates that Bradley is straight, but in gay film it is common for straight and gay actors to bond emotionally to the point that they get into making the picture work.  The intimate scenes are well done, and Everett looks very physically fit, even if he dawdles on getting the house repairs finished.

The official site is here  (TLA Releasing and Funny Boy Pictures – “Latter Days”).  The music score by Jack Dubowsky is a but impressionistic, and I think there was a quote of Satie.

A related film would be “Regarding Billy” (2005), by Jeff London. Billy returns home to take care of an intellectually challenged brother, when he falls in love with a soldier returning from Iraq, and they form a family.

Picture: Mammoth Lakes, mine, 2012; also, my parents in Yosemite, around 1940

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