[maxgallery name=”frameline-39-2015″]Castro Theater was a packed house last Thursday night as Frameline’s event organizers ushered in their 39th annual film festival. After several introductions and event announcements, audiences were presented with the night’s opening movie, I Am Michael. The film chronicles the life of Michael Glatze, a gay activist and journalist who seeks out Christianity, embraces heterosexuality, and eventually becomes a pastor. During his transformation he leaves his boyfriend of 10 years, condemns homosexuality, explores different religions, attends bible school, and marries a woman.
I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t sound like an ideal story to inaugurate the launch of a film festival celebrating LGBTQ culture and life. Since director Justin Kelly treads lightly over the controversial topic and gives a somewhat comical undertone to Glatze’s religious conversion, the story never gets too serious or anti-gay rhetoric too believable. But therein lies the issue. Though the film is based on a true story, I was not convinced by his transformations. James Franco, who played Glatze, lacked the passion, depth, and strong conviction in his newfound beliefs and ultimately struggled connecting with his complex and conflicted character. His anti-gay tirades and Christian philosophical rants felt almost absurd at times causing bursts of laughter from myself and audience members. Should such an emotional struggle provoke laughter, I wondered. In the end, a strong performance from Zachary Quinto, who played Glatze’s boyfriend, and steamy three way sex scene involving Franco were not enough to bring fulfillment to a true story that seemed implausible.
Frameline39 runs until June 28th. For the film guide and schedule of upcoming movies visit the festival’s website.