“West of Eden”
Family, Revenge and a Forbidden Love
It is not often that we get sophisticated and intelligent gay romance films and I strongly recommend “West of Eden”. This is not just story about gay love but one about true love set against societal constraints. We are reminded that individual freedom and rights are worth fighting for.
Billy Williams (Kieran Foster) is a Māori cowboy who does not say much verbally but sys a great deal with facial expression and body language. More than that, he is a good looking man. We get a glimpse at New Zealand in the fifties and early sixties. We see how itwas in small towns where the mind sets of the older generation is challenged by new ideas. The trouble is often such challenges can lead to disagreements and hostility.
The farm is full of dark secrets. Billy becomes involved with a family that has some serious problems and we see family feuds and the struggle with being gay in 1960 combined with the ever present small town gossip and societal expectations. (You will undoubtedly notice that I am skirting the plot as much as I can and when you see the film, you will understand why.
Even though the film is hinted as being a gay love story, it is more a drama of secret and lies with the action played out on a farm in rural New Zealand. Not only do we see the gorgeous New Zealand countryside but we are also taken on a journey filled with twists and turns. We become caught up in the characters and the story that stays with us long after the film is over. I love the song in the kitchen scene, so much a song of the time. Billy and Tom are our representative gay characters and the film gives us an excellent look at the struggle gay men had back then.
Everything is accurate for the time period including the costumes, the makeup and the hair styles. In the 60s, New Zealand was conservative especially in the rural areas. Social restrictions abounded and were adhered to. The story is complex and beautifully written story with full real characters. We become aware of the different situations people had to deal with back then. Each character had a story for us to get involved in and there were moments that I felt emotionally drained. Billy, our main character, steals hearts easily and his story is raw and emotional.