-----------------------EIGHTEEN (2004) Gay Interest ----------------------
Starring Ian McKellen, Brendan Fletcher, Carly Pope
Director Richard Bell
In this poignant, soul-searching drama, Pip Anders has just turned eighteen and finds himself estranged from his family and living homeless on the streets. As he attempts to sort out his young life with the help of a local priest (Alan Cumming, X2, Reefer Madness, TV's The L Word), he listens to a tape left to him by his deceased grandfather Jason (voiced by Ian McKellen, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the X-Men trilogy, The Da Vinci Code), telling of his own experiences at age eighteen trapped behind enemy lines in battle. Although decades apart, the two young men must face their difficult parallel lives, each on an uncertain journey of redemption and self-discovery.
On his eighteenth birthday, Pip receives a tape cassette of his grandfather (voiced by Ian McKellen) retelling his experiences as an Allied soldier in Germany during World War Two. As he listens ... Full Descriptionto his grandfather's harrowing memoir, Pip's own life begins to unravel: he becomes estranged from his parents and find himself living on the streets. With the help of a young gay hustler, an attractive social worker, and a local priest, Pip tries to make sense of his tumultuous life. This nuanced and finely-acted drama addresses complex and troubling issues such as death, war, and abuse.
Telling two distinctly different, but related, stories, sophomore filmmaker Richard Bell (Two Brothers) has crafted an accomplished drama about forgiveness, love and family. Assembling an outstanding cast of actors with queer credentials including Thea Gill ("Queer as Folk"), Ian McKellen, Alan Cumming and Canadian actor Brendan Fletcher (The Five Senses) Bell will gain attention for his new film with serious themes.
Pip (Anthony) is a teenager (looking a little worse for wear at eighteen) who is wandering the streets with a huge chip on his shoulders. On his birthday, his Dad tracks him down and gives him a gift of a tape recorder. Needing cash for essentials, like cheap booze, Pip hocks the gift, but as he walks out the door the shopkeeper offers him the tape from the machine. On the tape is Pip's grandfather's (told by Ian McKellen) story of WWII bravery and gay lust – and this is the second story in the film. When Pip is alone he turns on the recorder and we enter the world of the European front and two lost soldiers in Nazi territory. The parallels in the two tales bring a historical perspective to a story of a lost youth and ultimately it is his grandfather's story that brings cohesion to the young man's life.
Pip makes alliances with three characters in his search for solid ground. The first is a gay street hustler Clark (Spongale) whose hardened life is awoken by Pip. Pip picks up a girlfriend Jenny (Pope) who shows him that love is not just and abstract emotion. And most crucially is Father Chris (Cumming) a priest who finally gets to the core of what's eating Pip.
Fusing two stories into one cohesive film is always tricky and Bell has succeeded at that. The acting is all first-rate and that's what propels this complex film to its dramatic conclusion. Holding the whole film together is a unique symphonic score composed by Bramwell Tovey and performed by the Vancouver Symphony. Open your heart and soul to this unique and tender story of anger and forgiveness. -- Scott Cranin