Title: Latter Days
Director: C. Jay Cox
Starring: Wes Ramsey, Steve Sandvoss, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jacqueline Bisset
Distributers: Funny Boy Films
Country of Origin/Language: USA/English
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
A guest review by Lasha
Summary: “Sometimes it all still feels like a mass of dots. But more and more these days, I feel like we’re all connected. And it’s beautiful…and funny…and good.” — Aaron Davis, Latter Days
Sweet Home Alabama screenwriter C. Jay Cox directs the independent romance Latter Days. Christian (Wesley Ramsey) is a young gay party boy who lives in Southern California. When a group of good-looking Mormon missionary guys move into his apartment complex, he’s determined to pick one up. He ends up falling for sweet, innocent Mormon Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss), who’s secretly struggling with his sexuality. Aaron slowly falls for Christian, even though he thinks he’s shallow.
Aaron is a Mormon missionary sent to Los Angeles by his church to spread the word of God. He’s young, naive and charmingly innocent. Christian, on the other hand, is young, beautiful, shallow and very much not innocent. He’s a typical Hollywood cliche: in town to become an actor, only waiting tables until his ‘big break.’ In fact Aaron and he couldn’t be more different. When they meet, it is instant sparks, but Aaron cannot acknowledge the growing attraction to his neighbor as his church excommunicates gays. As Aaron struggles with his sexuality, Christian makes a bet with his co-workers he can bag one of the Mormons who have moved into the building. Little does he know this act will be the event that makes Christian change, grow and finally fall in love. Can two star-crossed lovers ever find happiness?
I was so happy when I realized that no one had reviewed Latter Days. For about 5 years it was my number one favorite independent gay-themed film (now occupying second place since Shelter moved into #1). I have shown it to most of my friends and a few family members, even bought a few extra copies to pimp out the non-believers of how awesome this film is. Written and directed by C. Jay Cox (writer of Sweet Home Alabama), this is basically semi-autobiographical, and chronicles his experiences when he was a Mormon. So while the film is critical of The Church of Latter Day Saint’s stance on homosexuals, it, in my opinion, does not bash the Mormon religion or members.
At the center of the film is Aaron. Beautiful and naive, he is goodness personified and Christian is the temptation his mother (and church) warned him about. But he doesn’t listen to them, he listens to his heart and his heart loves Christian. Even after he is excommunicated and banished to gay rehab, Aaron believes in Christian. It is through Aaron the audience also falls in love with Christian. And despite the way their relationship starts (the bet), Christian finally gets his head on straight — so to speak — and does the right thing. Christian’s growth as a human being in this movie is the other thing I love about it. He goes from an insecure Stuart Alan Jones to a compassionate friend and lover all because of Aaron. The love story is the true heart of this movie. As Christian tells him in the climax of the film:
Christian: What if everything in my entire pathetic life, which I happen to love, has led to this point right now? What if, what if you’re the blinding light in the middle of the road that, that strikes me like the guy in, in…
Aaron: The Bible?
Christian: Yeah, him.
Christian: Yeah. And what if everything’s changed like that? And lions lay down with lambs and colors mix with whites. What if you’re the one that I’ve been waiting for my whole life and I let you go?
Aaron: You have no idea what I’d be giving up.
Christian: Dammit! What is wrong with you? You want revelations engraved in gold and angels trumpeting down from heaven. What if this is it instead? Me telling you I love you.
By the end of the movie, you are praying for Aaron and Christian’s happy ending — as they deserve it. Highly recommended.
Latter Days is one of those movies you can watch over and over again and it never gets dull or old, as with each viewing you peel back another layer that makes you love it all over again. The main characters resonate with you and the secondary characters shine with wit, warmth and humor. Steve Sandvoss and Wesley Ramsey excel in their portrayals of the lovers who struggle against external forces to pull them part. Combine this with a terrific soundtrack, a great directorial debut and you have a winner.