“I DO”— Legal Equality and a Look at Humanity

i do

I Do

Legal Equality and a Look at Humanity

Amos Lassen

Jack Edwards (David W. Ross) is British and he lives in New York City as does his brother, Peter and wife, Mya (Alicia Witt). On the night that he meets Peter and Mya for dinner, he learns that they are going to be parents soon and Jack will be the “gay uncle”. That same night as they prepare to go home from dinner, Peter is killed by a passing automobile and the characters’ world immediately changes. Glenn Gaylord skillfully mixes tragedy, comedy, drama and intimacy to bring us a film filled with complications which cause people to act in ways they may never have considered. It is also a look at marriage equality which affects not only gay couples who wish to marry but everyone in the film to some degree. What I think is the beauty of this film is that it is not just about Jack and what he faces when his work visa expires but the anxieties many of us face almost daily. We could have had a very heavy movie about the lack of marriage equality in this country but instead we see how one man trying to figure his future out and how that concerns almost everyone in the film.

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When Jack is told that his visa will not be renewed, he marries his lesbian best friend so that he can stay in America. It doesn’t quite work out to the way he had things planned and when he meets the guy who is the love of his life, he is forced into making some very difficult choices. The film is wonderfully balanced between politics and humanity. The director’s own feelings about the policies of our government regarding same-sex marriage can be seen by the way Jack, the gay Brit, explores the possibilities of how to stay in America and so we also get a look at our government’s policy on immigration, to a degree.

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Jack has stayed around to help his sister-in-law raise Tara, his niece and I think it is fair to say that he was suffering from a sense of guilt. After all, he was there the night his brother was killed and to understand what I mean when I say a sense of guilt, you will understand once you see the film.

When his visa is not renewed, Jack marries his best friend, a lesbian named Ali (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) so that he can stay in this country with the only family he has now that his brother has joined his parents in death. Ali is what many refer to as a “lipstick lesbian” or as we learn in the film, a “gold star lesbian” and everything was going fine until we meet Mano Alfaro (Maurice Compte), a good looking and intelligent Spaniard who steals Jack’s heart. As he pursued Mano, Jack neglected his responsibilities to Ali and she gets a visit from Immigration when Jack is at Mano’s place. Of course it is only right to ask why did Jack not marry Mano from the get-go since same-sex marriage is legal in New York State.

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Gaylord shows us the complications that are caused by the lack of equality at the same time as we enjoy a well made film. We allow our emotions to be played with and we really have no idea how everything will end up. This is a strong film that while is about an issue of importance to the LGBT community, it can certainly cross over to all kinds of audiences. While much of the film is simple, it is not the kind of film that is easily forgotten.

Jack’s story pulls us in and we feel as if we are standing beside him as he tries to find happiness and love. The screenplay was also written by David Ross and it is passionate and important as it deals with love and its equality. While the overall premise is a justification for same-sex marriage, this is not handled as an issue to be shoved down our throats. Even though the film is pro gay marriage, we still are free to arrive at our own conclusions about it. I first saw it at the Boston LGBT Film Festival this year and was very impressed. Then I received a screener for review and was able to watch it slowly and replay parts and I am totally impressed by it. This is one film that will sit on my “Best” list for a very long time.

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