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C. Jay Cox
Because of a feature article on him in the Advocate, Albany based Donald Strachey has gained some notoriety as a gay private detective. His latest client, Paul Hale, a scared young man, provides Donald with a $5,000 retainer to find "someone", that person unspecified before Paul is scared off. Soon thereafter, Paul is found dead. The official cause of death is deemed suicide by the coroner's office, but Donald wants to do right by Paul by finding who killed him as the police unofficially believe he was murdered. Another person who believes Paul was murdered is his mother, Phyllis Hale. Donald learns that homophobic Mrs. Hale sent Paul to the Phoenix Foundation, run by Dr. Trevor Cornell and his wife Lynn Cornell and for which Paul was the poster child. The Foundation's raison d'etre is repairative therapy i.e. to help people turn from gay to straight. Donald believes Paul's death has something to do with the Foundation, whether it be a connection to one of the Cornells or one of the ... Written by
Good script. Good acting. Good production. Good editing. Everything about it: good. Okay, maybe one or two weaker performances in minor roles, but nothing actually bad.
I have to say, this strikes me as really a gay film. That might sound obvious, but hear me out. Brokeback Mountain is about same-sex attraction, unrequited love, etc., but in no way shape or form would I call it a gay movie. Shock to the System has a gay sensibility. We feel we're really in the gay community, observing the rest of the world from OUR point of view. Usually films with this perspective are sub par, if not very sub par.
What a pleasant surprise to find a good genre picture made from our point of view. I really enjoyed this movie, and I was completely thrown by the various red herring strewn along the way. I'm no big fan of mysteries (a reason I wasn't particularly eager to see this movie), but this one kept me engrossed. The plot handily incorporates the subtext of what it is to be gay in a way that reinforces the story line. Kudos.
The more I think about it, the more I have to say, much to my surprise, I really liked this movie.
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