Written by Jon Robin Naitz / Directed by Roland Emmerich / Starring Jeremy Irvine, Jonny Beauchamp and Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Mr. Pugliese: Love isn’t always pretty.
Danny: You should put that on a poster.
I am a proud gay man. I don’t always agree with the direction the community takes but as far as my own sexuality goes, I embraced it twenty years ago (ouch) and have never looked back since. I owe so much of my ability to be this proud, and so many of the freedoms I enjoy today, to the brave men and women who came before me and fought for equality and acceptance. The birth of that movement is oft attributed to the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City, and now that crucial moment in gay history has been once again commemorated on film with Roland Emmerich’s STONEWALL. Given how difficult the struggle has been and continues to be for many gay men and women around the world today, I deserve, nay, we all deserve, a better film than this to honour that journey.
1969 was a different time, obviously. Many gay people were discarded by their families when their secret came out, many more than today anyway, and many of those people travelled to large urban centres like New York or San Francisco to find new homes. One of these young men shown in the film is a boy named Danny (Jeremy Irvine). Danny shows a lot of promise but he is sleeping with the football quarterback in the shadows, which greatly displeases the coach, who also happens to be Danny’s father. And so Danny isn’t a person but rather, as drawn quite thinly by screenwriter Jon Robin Naitz (TV’s The Slap), he is a caricature. When he gets to NYC, he meets a plethora of other stereotypes posing as people and they flutter around aimlessly until the rioting begins.
STONEWALL is a joke of a film, or at least it plays like one. What these men and women endured is genuinely horrifying but Emmerich’s (ANONYMOUS) direction is completely hollow which encourages little to no emotion whatsoever. I should have been crying throughout this film but instead I was just insulted.