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Latter Days has a great setup: a Mormon missionary (Steve Sandvoss) gets assigned to L.A., where he falls in love with his gay neighbor.

Under the Rainbow Banner

Laundry metaphors don't help Latter Days
Laundry metaphors don’t help Latter Days

Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven sheds some light on the Mormon faith — particularly its extremes, but also on everyday Mormon practices, which are fairly restrictive and out of touch with Los Angeles’ gay culture.

So Latter Days is a culture clash movie, not unlike this week’s The Prince and Me, but far more provocative and, frankly, R-rated. What would happen between a hedonistic fairy and an earnest but curious Mormon? It’s fertile ground for drama, comedy, and spirituality.

Unfortunately, the movie is too amateurish and too melodramatic to ever really sell any of its interesting ideas for longer than a few minutes. A scene will strike a chord, but instead of letting it ring, writer/director C. Jay Cox damps it with contrived dialogue or cheesy humor. It’s so bad sometimes it’s unintentionally funny. The meeting between Aaron the Mormon and Christian the “fairy” (Wesley A. Ramsey) in the laundry room provides one of the film’s attempted metaphors: “we’re colors and whites — we don’t mix.”

Saints and Sinners

The movie also suffers from “too much gay, not enough Mormon.” Although some details of Mormonism are carefully mentioned, mere details don’t really convey the culture I read about in Under the Banner of Heaven. Latter Days portrays gay culture pretty well, but it doesn’t offer any insights on Mormonism, which is used as a movie shorthand for a gay-repressive culture.

For an amateur film, Latter Days isn’t too bad. It’s a nice movie with likeable characters. It’s also a movie that many homosexuals will probably identify with. But unless you’re willing to give it a break, it may disappoint.

  • Al: Marty,

    In your review, you end with "But unless you’re willing to give it a break, it may disappoint."

    You, yourself gave it only 2 stars... Maybe you just didn't give it a break.

    I see its flaws.. the 'crying scenes' weren't on par with what I would call "great." But the 'coincidences' depicted were intentional.. and obviously so.

    You also mention that "Unfortunately, the movie is too amateurish and too melodramatic to ever really sell any of its interesting ideas for longer than a few minutes." Are you unaware of the popularity of the film and the fan base it does have?

    Just curious.

    Al

    July 23, 2008 reply
  • barb: i was watching logo-this movie came on just once enough for me -this love story gives all of us hope-brought it - thank the goddess for our differences-in the end we are all the same looking for someone to love you for all you are-this film was done in the matter that all of us in this world could relate-thank you so much November 24, 2008 reply