›› 1985 ‹‹

a film by Yen Tan.

2018 | 85 mins | US.

a young man's heartfelt attempts to be open with his family.

Dave says:

Returning to the family home for Christmas after having made a swift exit three years ago for the bright lights of New York City, advertising executive Adrian Lester (Cory Michael Smith) finds his return more than a little on the frosty side. Welcomed with open arms by his mother Eileen (Virginia Madsen), but begrudgingly by his father Dale (Michael Chiklis), Adrian's main concern however lies with the cold shoulder reaction to his arrival from his younger brother Andrew (Aidan Langford). Once more like best friends than brothers, they now appear miles apart. Yet both have more in common with each other, than initially apparent, rebuilding their bond over the coming days by way of their mutual love of the music of Madonna.

Only here something has changed, given Adrian is a man on a mission. Showering his family with presents that are well above his pay scale, whilst trying to reconnect with his former close friend and now stand-up comic Carly (Jamie Chung), namely the girl who his parents thought was 'the one' and in his mother's case - still does, Adrian knows that he has to somehow find the right moment to say things that need to be said. And said, before it's too late to say them.

Written and directed by Yen Tan and shot in grainy black and white that frankly adds to the '80s styled atmosphere of the piece, this heart-wrenching work poignantly shines the spotlight on a young man's heartfelt attempts to be open with his family. Only to do so is easier said, than done, in a deeply religious household where even the songs of Madonna are viewed as being akin to the devil's music. Yet in a work that pays specific attention to getting the timeline right and here cue the audio cassettes of yesterday, Yen Tan laces his film with a series of cinematic clues that can but point in one direction, as Adrian is quick to squash his mother's dreams of matrimony with Carly, whilst touchingly paving the way for his younger brother to walk the same sexual path, should he decide to do so.

Interspersed with flashbacks of Adrian's openly gay life outside his hometown, it's the emotional confrontation between father and son that is pivotal to this work. Beautifully played in a slow build up style, with the camera edging its way ever closer as the encounter between the two comes to a head, their uneasy conversation reveals a father far more knowledgeable of the truth, than Adrian could ever have imagined.

The result is a profoundly moving feature that brilliantly captures the traumatic times of 1985 and the reality of AIDS through the story of a family whose love for their son is beyond question and yet are seemingly unable to give him the unconditional love that he so desperately yearns for. For here your heart goes out to Adrian, wonderfully played by Smith, who throughout it all confides in the family dog his innermost feelings and thereby to the audience itself, knowing that this Christmas could very well be his last. Highly recommended.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Saturday, 17th October, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 5 stars. 

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