Date: Friday, 10/21/2011
Time: 5:00 pm
Venue: Lisner Auditorium
Tickets: $12 - [Buy Tickets]
Type: Feature presentation
Metro Weekly Rating:
(4 out of 5)
"I'D RATHER BE fucking dead than go on living in a wheelchair,'' Morgan Oliver exclaims at one unguarded point in the film Morgan. It's not so much the small stuff Oliver dislikes about a life confined to a wheelchair, from the extra effort it takes to simply get out of bed to the difficulties in maneuvering around a small kitchen. The beginning scenes show the character struggling with those types of routine, everyday tasks.
Ultimately, the gay athlete is most frustrated that his new life in a wheelchair has put limits on his fiercely competitive nature and his previously wide-ranging mobility. A wipeout during a bike race last year broke Oliver's back and paralyzed him from the waist down. It will take time before he's able to compete in that same race again, using a customized bike -- not to mention a lot of convincing to get his mother and best friend, adamantly opposed to more racing, on board.
Michael Akers's fascinating, quietly powerful film follows Oliver in his new life in a wheelchair. And then comes love. Akers's film is in many ways a traditional love story, told with a refreshing twist: A handsome, hunky gay man falls in love with another, who just happens to be wheelchair-bound. Jack Kesy plays the able-bodied Dean Kagen, who pursues a relationship with Oliver, played by Leo Minaya.
The two bond over basketball, as well as their respective movie-star good looks: Kesy looks a bit like James Dean, while Minaya resembles Gyllenhaal. The two actors have a nice chemistry and sexual heat, and they portray the budding romance with just the right amount of initial awkwardness and eventual passion. Kagen is a natural caregiver, and seems in every way perfect for Oliver, far less troubled by Oliver's handicapped body than Oliver is.
Oliver still has the drive of a competitive athlete, and he ends up pushing himself and his relationship a bit too hard, leading to a lot more struggle and soul-searching. Fortunately, Akers's film has a lightness of being, never getting bogged down in too many details.
You're never too concerned that Oliver won't eventually figure the right course to take. --DR
730 21st Street NW
For individual tickets and festival passes, visit www.reelaffirmations.org. Standard Festival Passes are $150 and Six Pack Passes are $60. Both allow for entry to any of the films except special events and opening and closing nights. Tickets may be purchased online, at the box offices, or at Universal Gear (1529 14th Street NW, WDC).