Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (2015)

STEPHEN CONE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B.  USA, 2015.  .  Screenplay by Stephen Cone.  Cinematography by .  Produced by Stephen Cone, , , , .  Music by , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Stephen Cone.   Podcast:  Bad Gay Movies.

Henry is the son of a pastor and it’s his birthday, so he is having friends and family over to enjoy the pool and a barbecue in the sunshine.  The guests show up with no end of dramatic complications that are mostly discussed but rarely experienced, including a devout Christian whose tolerance for sinners grows looser with a bit of wine, his woefully dissatisfied wife who disapproves of just about everything, the widow of the former pastor who is dying to get a bit of wine herself, her emotionally disturbed son (who represents one of the few things that actually happens in this deadly dull indie, but then takes it to an incongruously ridiculous extreme), Henry’s sister who has regrets about having pre-teen sex, and his mom who has a mistake in her own past to deal with by the end of the day.  Then of course there’s Henry, who is clearly growing more confident about his sexuality and on the verge of questioning his religious devotion in context with his feelings: you can’t be that devout a Christian when you convince your straight best friend to jack off in front of you during a sleepover, can you?  Very little is explored in this film, mostly it’s an attempt to make the most of having a large cast of people in one limited location, but what writer-director Stephen Cone comes up with has little dramatic interest even if his descriptions of Protestant Christian life and behaviour are frequently accurate.

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