Ben’s “Gay” Breakdown | “At The End Of The Day”
David Hopper is a family counselor with a somewhat pronounced anti-LGBTQ point of view. This is not surprising considering he graduated from the religiously conservative Lakeside Christian College. After having a disastrous session with a mother and her son he’s forced to look for employment elsewhere, and ends up as a teacher back at the college he graduated from. While there Dean Woodman has a special “assignment” for David. Apparently there is an abandoned building that the college wishes to buy, but there is a LGBTQ Support Group that is trying to buy it so that they can turn it into offices and a shelter for the LGBTQ homeless. Dean Woodman wants David to sort of infiltrate the group just to get a sense of where they are at in their mission to buy the building, and then possibly even derail their efforts. While David is there he gets to know these people individually. They invite him on their outings and activities. However, when a young student protesting against marriage equality exposes David for who he really is he then finds his life in complete turmoil. He even reaches a point where he has to re-examine his religious beliefs about whether or not these people are broken. Can he help the Support Group get their building? Will they even trust him?
Gay drama/comedies are not a new thing, but to have At The End Of The Day address this topic of conservative Christianity with their anti-LGBTQ policies and beliefs is surprising to say the least. One might expect it to be a complete mockery, but writer/director Kevin O’Brien walks the thinnest of tightropes in balancing the comedic and dramatic elements, and never does the movie fall too hard in one category or the other. Even when some of the plot points became deadly serious, it is followed up with a scene of gentle lightheartedness to keep the movie from becoming too heavy. It also does something that is both disturbing and accurate in today’s religious culture. When Dean Goodman is confronted by a student in David’s college class about same-sex love he delivers a speech that sounds as if it’s coming from a place of Christian love (Love the Sinner, Not the Sin), but instead of opening his eyes to the true message of Christ-like love, he uses his belief as an excuse to justify his anti-LGBTQ position. On the surface it sounds great, but when looked at closely the lesson is hollow. This is the message of the film, even when presented by the movie’s own “parable” when David stops at a gas station to get a cup of coffee, and a young man is next to him putting all sorts of flavorings into his own cup. When David states that he likes it black, the young man replies with how David is missing out on a world of flavors. That is the life that David initially misses out, only to realize that through diversity do people truly start to see the wonders of God. Or, to put it more bluntly, and as Auntie Mame would say, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
Most independent films for the LGBTQ community tend to come up short in the areas of acting and their cast, but not this movie. At the End of the Day has an incredibly solid cast from top to bottom that helps to deliver just the right type of drama and humor at just the right times. Starting with Stephen Shane Martin as the conflicted David, he has a charming approach that is rather disarming. Even when he’s teaching class at Lakeside and is forced to answer uncomfortable questions regarding same-sex love, Martin always responds in a way that keeps in line with his character’s position on the issue, but at the same time comes off as genuine and kind. This is quite the contrast from Tom Nowicki as Dean Goodman. It’s easy to see him as being possibly cliché, but instead he’s presented as a man who desperately needs to believe in what he’s peddling. It’s as if Nowicki is playing the Dean as a naked man who clothes himself with scripture to his liking. It is an outstanding, and quite subtle, performance.
There are a variety of supporting characters that help round out this movie, but out of those the one who stands out is Susan Mulholland. Playing the slightly eccentric Aunt Patty, she is the type of aunt that everyone should have. Played with odd whimsical warmth, Patty’s place in David’s heart serves as a key that helps to unlock David’s heart and realize that there is more to the world than his black and white point of view. The rest of the cast is incredibly strong, despite not having the greatest screen time. Their commitment to the roles they play is strong nevertheless.
If there is anything negative about At the End of the Day it is that at times the movie feels a bit slow, almost as if this story is playing out in real time as opposed to “movie” time. It’s arguable that the movie might benefit from some scene tightening as to help maintain the viewer’s interest. Other than that, At the End of the Day is a wonderful piece of work!
At the End of the Day receives 4 out of 5 Rainbow Flags!
Check out the Press Release on how and where to see At the End of the Day.