a film by Billie Rain
2011 | 81 mins | US
›› Heart Breaks Open
the physical and emotional consequences of going bareback.
Heart Breaks Open by Billie Rain In what is one of the most frank depictions of the reality of HIV, Seattle filmmaker Billie Rain delivers a remarkably candid work that charts the life changing repercussions of being diagnosed positive.

And it is all the more dramatic for star of the show Jesus; a counselor used to saving the lives of others, only to now find himself in need of spiritual guidance, courtesy of a one night "cheating on your partner" stand that saw him go the unprotected way and thereafter having to account for his unguarded actions. For at heart, that is what this deeply personal work is about. Personal in the sense that Rain opts for a fly-on-the-wall style presentation, as we come to cinematically eavesdrop on a series of private moments; from Jesus taking a HIV test, to learning of the result that no-one wants to hear, to that of his subsequent suicide attempt and on to a life living with HIV and the habitual routine of medication that goes alongside it.

Heart Breaks Open by Billie Rain Yet in a film that mixes actors with real life staff and situations and put it this way, never has a HIV test been seen in this detail, it is Brian Peters as "big old giant glitter nun" Michael aka Sister Alysa Trailer who steals the show with his life saving compassion, even if praise must be paid to Samonte Cruz who in the role of Jesus' soon to be ex partner Johnny was hit by a car the day before rehearsals were due to begin and throughout bravely temporarily removed his neck brace to allow his scenes to be filmed.

Laced with Jesus' poetic views of life, let alone an all too rare FTM transexual celluloid presence courtesy of Cruz, this is a film that has a lot going for it; from the vividly realistic "Stations of the Cross" like performance by Maximillian Davis as HIV positive Jesus, to the sheer joie du vie of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, to the charitable work of countless volunteers, many of whom are shown raising funds in their own fabulous fashion. True, much of the dialogue is improvised; as too the often in / out of focus cinematography lends itself to the genuine feel of the piece, namely the mindset of a young man who in being brutally honest with himself, is to be found being direct with the world itself. Both heartrending and provoking in equal measure, but and as with many a feature of this nature, it leaves you on an optimistic high, as Jesus finally comes to love himself and through that to love those around him, having learned a poignant lesson on how to rebuild his life, when all appeared lost.

A compelling film on the physical and emotional consequences of going bareback, to put it mildly.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - strictly from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 
world premiere as part of the 25th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2011.
starring: Maximillian Davis / Jesus, Brian Peters / Michael - Sister Alysa Trailer, Samonte Cruz / Johnny,
Qwo-Li Driskill / Johnny's friend Tsiya, Trenton Garris / John and Alix Kolar as Taylor.
with: Jenn Bowman / Survivor's Alliance Community Advocate, Luis Viquez / Gay City Testing Clinic Counselor,
Brad Mott / Mom's Pharmacy Pharmacist, Michael Pierce / Mom's Pharmacy Front Desk
and William David Borden Mazas / Lifelong AIDS Alliance Counselor.
vocal cameo by producer and cinematographer Basil Shadid as the Survivor's Alliance Caller.
official website:
Copyright 2011 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #453
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