The transformative power of love is at the centre of Latter Days, a film about a playboy and a Mormon who fall in love.
Already a huge hit at gay and lesbian film festivals in Europe, Africa, Mexico and across North America, Latter Days stars Wes Ramsey as Christian, a name not casually chosen.
Christian is a hunky L.A. party boy travelling fast on the road of excess without, seemingly, too much interest in arriving at the palace of wisdom.
A group of guys moves into Christian's apartment complex and he goes over to welcome them and, of course, to check them out. These guys seem very straight-laced. Indeed, they are Mormon missionaries.
One of the newcomers is Aaron (Steve Sandvoss), and Christian is attracted to him immediately. Christian bets his co-workers $50 that he can seduce the religious young man, but what eventually happens alters both Christian and Aaron profoundly.
They fall in love, causing Christian to question his whole lifestyle and Aaron to question his family upbringing and religious beliefs. Upheaval ensues. Change follows.
Latter Days leans to melodrama, but there's much more going on here than just star-crossed lovers. Writer/director C. Jay Cox -- who experienced the Mormon view on gay life firsthand -- gets the sort of performances out of his characters that will help you overlook what is cliched about the story.
And the two leads are helped along nicely by a support cast that includes Erik Palladino, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jacqueline Bisset (as the wise owner of the restaurant where Christian works) and Mary Kay Place as Aaron's tough-love mom.
Latter Days has some of the technical clunky bits that are to be expected in any directorial debut, but it also has been called the most important gay male movie of the past few years.
The film has been favourably compared to Trembling Before G-d, the documentary that addresses the soul-searching among ultra-Orthodox Jews who also happen to be gay.
Latter Days is playing at the Carlton theatre.
(This film is rated 14-A)
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