“The Weight of Secrecy,” a review of “1985” by Nathan H. Box
Recommendation: 5/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Director: Yen Tan, Writers: Hutch, Yen Tan, Starring: Virginia Madsen, Jamie Chung, Cory Michael Smith
Plot: “A closeted young man goes home for the holidays and struggles to reveal his dire circumstances to his conservative family.” -IMDB
Review: As an out and proud gay man, I know the story of “1985” well. I don’t understand the urgency of needing to come home and confess something before it is too late, but I understand the feeling of coming home for the holidays and with the intention of sharing who you truly are and failing to do so. In more ways than I can count, I related to this black and white tale. On an emotional level, it shook me at my core. By the time it was all over, I was left distraught to ponder over one of the very best movies of the year.
Let’s be real. Going home for the holidays is awkward. It can feel like going back in time and getting a glimpse of a person who is no longer you. Most of us tough it out clinging to nostalgia. For those who have to return with a secret lying underneath and a general discomfort in your own skin, the holidays can feel like hell. Thanks to superb acting by Cory Michael Smith playing Adrian and the brilliant directing/writing of Yen Tan and Hutch, we are allowed to experience this discomfort first hand.
You will spend much of this film waiting for Adrian to confess as the weight of secrecy begins to crush him. Slowly, we will begin to realize that Adrian has more to do than just come out. The weight of also having AIDS and that this might be the last Christmas with his family raises the stakes of his challenges to even higher level. Sprinkle in a conservative/Christian family and the task becomes damn near impossible.
In the end, this film is a long goodbye and an essay about suffering alone. It is also a film about how freeing it can be to no longer live a lie. Without a doubt, this is one of the most powerful movies I have seen this year. It stands as a marker for how far we’ve come, but it is also a testament for all those people who will go through this holiday season not being themselves. Great movies provide this opportunity for us. They stand as a mirror for our society to reflect upon progress. This is a great movie; Oscar-worthy indeed.
Be good to each other,
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