HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of And Then Came Summer, The Journey of Jared Price

Title:  And Then Came Summer

Release Date:  2000

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: about 115 min

MPAA Rating: sug PG-13 (strong)

Distributor and Production Company:  Wolfe, 10 Percent

Director; Jeff London

Producer: Jeff London

Cast:  Jesse Petrick, Mathieu Smith


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And Then Came Summer (2000, Wolfe/10percent, dir. Jeff London) was filmed largely in the late fall of 1997 (odd considering the movie’s working title) in the mid California coast. I mention this first, because this intimate drama has an expansive, widescreen landscaped look with its own subtle though dusk-like colors, a West Coast kind of autumnal quality. The film was originally to be called A Family Reunion, a phrase which provides a mini logline. Two teenager boys David (Jesse Petrick) and Seth (Mathieu Smith) start to become lovers as two families come together on the California coast. The presentation of the relationship is gentle, always PG-13—though I would sequenced the coldwater swim later. David’s brother Rocky (Anthony J. Domingues) apparently witnesses them, and then threatens to expose the “secret.” A confrontation eventually follows, when we learn that Seth had been kidnapped for reparative therapy, a ploy arranged by his parents in a terrifying opening first scene (optional, and available on the DVD as an extra). Yet Seth seems fully intact, decisive, charismatic, good at most things. They boys also like science fiction and aliens—and this ties into the idea that straight people look at them as “aliens” and as potential enemies. Why is this? Is it that anyone who is different is a threat, or does it have more to do with some idea of universal socialization—that heterosexism is something everybody needs to believe in to glue society together and to give ordinary people enough incentive to make the enormous sexual commitment needed for child rearing. Now how’s that?

The dialogue and expository of the script reminds one of TheWB young adult dramas—especially Everwood—although the keyboard music is a bit morose and needs more imagination (Remy Zero would help). The DVD presents interviews with the cast and staff, and the didactic purpose seems low-key, a kind of Gay 101—the film achieves more than it claims. Matthieu Smith displays distracting eye circles in the interview, and they don’t seem to be noticeable in the film. The character Ricky, played by Anthony Domingues, would appear to be adopted, but the script never needs to waste dialogue telling us that. This is, after all, family.

The Journey of Jared Price (2000, Wolfe/10percent, dir. Dustin Lance Black, R, 97 min) is another coming of age story. Jared (Corey Spears) is a perfect looking (by many gay stereotypes) nineteen year old man who leaves Georgia for LA. He moves into a youth hostel where the men may bunk up to four to a room, curfew at 11 PM, and no women allowed. Well, how’s that? We hardly hear about that kind of housing today in mainstream life. He gets a job as a caretaker for a rich blink woman Mrs. Haines and soon meets her fortyish son Matthew (Steve Tyler, who really looks like a “daddy”), who draws him into a “sugar daddy” relationship. Sometimes the buildup is genuinely erotic, as Jared will be undressed at least twice. Now Matthew wants a threesome, as his “partnership” with Andrew, while Jared has been lucky enough to meet a more stable person Robert (Josh Jacobson) at the hostel. Jared eases into these encounters with little conscious concern of crossing some specific line and “coming out” as gay. To him, the gender of the partner may not matter as much as the tension in the relationship.

The movie starts to go down some dark corridors of Matthew’s life style, with cocaine and S&M—at one point there is a prospective discussion of gay marriage that seems like a charade given their behavior. The “gay world” is shown as so separate from “mainstream” society that talk of babies and family responsibility seems irrelevant if not oxymoronic. It is Jared’s angelic character that saves everyone. At the outset, Jared wants to keep his feet planted in some kind of real life. Jared is always careful and calculating, and considerate, and sounds like he wants to be a “Rosenfels” masculine despite his subservient situation. He shoots videos to frame the story, and at one point he soliloquizes that he doesn’t know what to do with his freedom. Now, I’ve tempted to compare Jared to other appealing teenage male characters (Seth in the Summer movie above, or Aaron in Latter Days, or character like Ephram and Clark on TheWB) and it seems you want Jared to be more forceful and colorful. To succeed in a competitive world, it seems like he may need some lessons from The Donald. Though—his niceness is rewarded at the end by Mrs. Haines, who threatens to use the Dead Hand and disinherit her own son. 

But if every teen male was a stable and honest as Jared (gay or not), the world would be a much safer place. In the DVD outtakes and interviews, actor Corey Spears reinforces the lowkey, wholesome character with a southern twang, and Dustin Lance Black, himself quite young, describes what it is like to shoot a film like this on a shoestring in five days. There were a few scenes that needed more attention to lighting, but the end result of the film does have an appropriate visual sweep.


Related reviews: Major GLBT films


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