a short film by Kevin Thompson
2006 | 14 mins | US
›› The Orchard
the compelling story of family loyalty v true love
The Orchard by Kevin Thompson The story of a parents' desire for grandchildren, only for their in-the-closet son forced to choose between heterosexual conformity or homosexual openness, is a cinematic card that has been played in various guises, on numerous occasions. Such however does not make the issues concerned any less compelling, given that what is fiction to some, is but the bitter reality for all too many.

Well in this well-crafted short from director and co-writer Kevin Thompson, this emotive card is dealt again, only for Thompson to refreshingly leave the habitual city setting behind and in this case, exchange it for the sun-drenched orange orchards of Andalusia, Spain, 1920's style. For it is here that you'll find Sasha, sole son of the Garcías, tending to the fruit by day and to his lover Emilio by night. Ever aware that his parents are anxious to see their farm passed onto future generations, he has avoided talk of marriage for years, until matters are brought to a head upon the arrival of Isabel, his intended bride-to-be. Only will Sasha choose family loyalty over true love?

Like the Jaime Humberto Hermosillo feature Doña Herlinda and Her Son, this USC Graduate Thesis film showcases the intense soul searching of a son whose homosexuality and lover are but open secrets, accepted by the patriarch, provided that the son 'does his rightful duty.' Whether he does or does not, would be saying, but here Thompson takes delight in crosscutting his work flashback style, with scenes of Sasha dressed in his Sunday best, prompting the question of whether he is about to attend his marriage ceremony or that of another?

The result is a heartrending work that details the tale of two men in love with each other, only to come face to face with the role of the dutiful son. To that end, Joshua Pohja as Sasha and Joseph LeMieux as Emilio play their parts pitch perfect. But it is Marco DeLuca as Sasha's father who steals the show, his subtle eye movements and relatively few lines perfectly conveying the emotions of a man well aware of where his sons' affection lies, but equally determined to see the orchard passed down the family line.

Inspired by the life of the noted Spanish poet García Lorca and complete with some passionate man-on-man lip-service, Thompson has delivered a short as seemingly laid-back as a Spanish siesta, only to up the pace by way of its emotional conclusion. For whilst this may well be a film on a more than familiar theme, it is the poignancy of the subject matter and the sincerity of its delivery, that makes it as welcome as a ripe orange, on a hot summer day. Delightful.
starring: Joshua Pohja, Joseph LeMieux, Marco DeLuca, Carol Abney, Kerry Bishop, Andrea Carvajal,
Cristina Liciman, Carlos Linares, Marina Resa, Stefanie Stevens
Copyright 2009 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #198
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