›› Arizona Sky
a film by Jeff London.
2008 | 91 mins | US.
starring: Eric Dean / adult Jake, Jayme McCabe / adult Kyle, Blaise Embry / young Jake, Kyle Buckland / young Kyle, Brent King / Steve,
Bernadette Murray / Cora, Emerson Smith / cousin Heath, Evan Cuthbert / Brian and with Patricia Place as Aunt Elaine.
Adapted Synopsis: "Teenagers Jake and Kyle are best friends growing up in rural Arizona. Only when the two are about to take their friendship to the next level, Jake's father moves him and his family to California. Fifteen years later and now a stressed out film producer, Jake remembers the tender times he spent with Kyle, fond memories that with the motivation of his best friend Steve, see him return to his hometown to renew his friendship with the man who may be the one."
For those longing for a gay film with a happy ending, then look no more than this sweet tale of two men who after having spent years apart, begin their relationship anew. Taken at a deliberately unhurried, if perhaps too slow for some pace, this gentle approach nevertheless allows ample opportunity for character development, with Kyle forever putting himself down as "a simple cowboy," not in the same league as his big city friend. Yet love is blind and here and by no surprise, these two hearts are destined to beat as one.
Sentimentally played, cue the background strings and with man-on-man action strictly limited to the lip-service variety, this is a work with a strong "seize the day," if not "the love of your life" message attached to it. And it is this "to hell with what people might think" theme that is the film's cornerstone, one complete with a heart-warming performance from Patricia Place as Aunt Elaine, namely the lady who makes Kyle finally embrace the homosexual calling of his heart in the arms of the man, he clearly loves.
Paradise Lost in Arizona Sky.
Sure, there's a few negatives in the mix; indeed, some would say a lot, together with a number of oddities, of the like of Jake's best friend from the city, a vibrant performance by Brent King as travelling companion Steve, never getting to meet, at least on-screen, the man whom Jake has returned home for, having all but vanished into the cinematic wings upon their arrival in small town America. Then again, this is the McCabe and Dean show, with Jayme McCabe wonderfully capturing the emotional unease of a man ever afraid to let his rainbow heart run free, a character that is nicely juxtaposed with Eric (The Men Next Door) Dean's delightful portrayal of an openly gay man come home to find the love, he left behind. Indeed, there's a beauty to this film that far outweighs its limited budget, aided by picture postcard views of Lake Havasu City, even if such a lush location could have been used more for my liking, whilst the odd edit or two is equally left blowing in the Arizona wind.
Paradise Found in Arizona Sky.
In short, this is a good ole fashioned love story, one that tells its tale without sex, but with a plethora of emotions, of which the opening fifteen minutes of youthful camaraderie is beautifully handled, even if the story of young Jake and Kyle, well played by the Embry / Buckland boys cuts away, I dare say, all too soon for some. That said, the awkwardness of the sudden reunion between the two men is played achingly real, with the "two characters per scene" staging creating an intimate style of delivery, as we see long lost lovers reconnect with each other; remembering times past, whilst contemplating their future together, let alone the big question of - what is life all about? And whilst saccharine-coated, big time, this is still a feel-good slice of gay romance for the boys, even if London does let the reality of the situation, literally hit home. As for the rating, well as ever this is subjective and here I have no doubt that it will vary a lot depending on how you like your sugar - one lump or two?
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - from the waist up.
Overall - file under ... 3 stars up or down
- depending on how you like your sugar.