I Am Michael

It feels like this place is part of a past that doesn’t exist anymore!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Justin Kelly

Cast : James Franco, Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts

So after a bit of a break because of moving to a new area and spending a bit of time tweaking the new look for the site, I am finally back with a review for a film I’ve wanted to see for a while. It is also a film that seems kind of relevant at the moment as Pride has recently been celebrated in my native UK, so what better time to review an LGBT film?

For me I always have a keen interest in these films because I’m transgender, and whilst I personally believe that transgenderism is in no way linked to sexuality and shouldn’t be part of the above abbreviation (I’ve covered that in my personal blog), I am still interested in watching films that advertise themselves as such.

This film also stars the ever brilliant Zachary Quinto, who was easily the best thing about the TV show “Heroes”, and also Emma Roberts, who was in one of my favourite films of last year, the delightful fun ‘Nerve’. James Franco on the other hand is consistently inconsistent, you never know quite what you’re going to get with him.

Plot

Michael (Franco) and Bennett (Quinto) are a couple living in San Francisco when the latter receives a job offer and they move to Canada. Michael is somewhat annoyed by it at first as he gave up his dream of being an editor at a magazine about life in the LGBT community.

They soon start on a journey to discover the culture amongst the youths in America, but Michael soon becomes obsessed by the impact of religion in relation to his sexuality, as well as death. After suffering several heart issues, he is believes that he has the same heart disease that killed his father suddenly when he was a teenager, although it is confirmed that he hasn’t. Celebrating the all clear, he plans to start a new magazine aimed at LGBT youth, but soon starts studying the Bible quite heavily. He is soon approached by a group who invite him to their church. Whilst there he finds himself being flattered and intrigued by the offer of a date with a young lady.

He decides to spend some time away from Bennett to figure out what he truly wants, and to explore his new found religious beliefs. Michael soon officially denounces his homosexuality and starts posting hate on his blog towards to the LGBT community after getting death threats. Soon joining Bible school to become a pastor, he soon meets Rebekah (Roberts), and the two start Michael’s first heterosexual relationship.

Thoughts on “I Am Michael”

This is such a tricky review to write because of the subject matter. As someone who belongs to the LGBT community (even if I disagree with the T part being associated to the rest, as mentioned above) it would have been each to get offended by this film, but it left me with a few interesting thoughts.

Whilst getting off to a slow start, “I Am Michael” is quite thought provoking on a lot of levels and I found the whole subject matter to be quite interesting as you’re watching a story of a man who is simply trying to find out who he is and where he belongs in a world. You genuinely feel that he is a character that is worth following and getting invested in. He is the every-man that is just trying to find his place, and there is something to respect about that, at least in the first half of the film.

He is a fascinating character to say the least because you really want to dislike him because of some of the stuff he does during the film, especially after he denounces his homosexuality, but there is something magnetic about him. You want to find out the final part of his story, and that is something that is very hard to come by sometimes. At first I found the character a little boring, but as time went on I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

The development of the character and his transition throughout the movie feels very natural. Nothing feels forced and you see why the character turns to religion. His relationship with Rebekah develops in a way that you can really sense a true connection between them.

This is in part down to Franco’s excellent portrayal of the character, and the poster is correct, it is his best performance since “127 Hours”. In a film of otherwise fairly wooden performances, Franco is magnetic. By the way, don’t go into it expecting to see Emma Roberts much as she doesn’t feature until the final twenty-five minutes.

I like the aspect that the LGBT community treat him with hatred for turning heterosexual, even when at the time he hasn’t seemingly said too offensive at that point (although that does soon change). It shows that perception is everything and that hatred in the religious/sexual orientation debate is not necessarily only from one side, which a lot of people think you believe. The way that Michael is mocked for his religious beliefs by the LGBT community, and especially Bennett when Michael breaks it off with him. You get somewhat annoyed because ultimately the characters are being a bit hypocritical as they’re demanding people be open minded about their sexual orientation, but they’re not open-minded themselves. Granted, Michael does eventually turn into an arsehole about it as well with some of his articles, but before then he isn’t given a lot of respect for his growing interest in the Bible.

“I Am Michael” is thought provoking and whilst most other based on a true story are often predictable and dull, I found myself feeling relatively pleased after watching this.

Summary

“I Am Michael” is a film that I can picture dividing a lot of people because of it’s tone and when Michael decides to denounce his homosexuality, but for me that scene particularly worked. I found myself drawn to the movie, and that despite a very slow start.

Don’t get in expecting to be enthralled throughout, nor expecting excellence from everyone in the movie. Franco is comfortably the best thing about this movie, and far outshines his cast-mates, not that that’d be hard given that he is the only one who isn’t that particularly wooden.

Go in and enjoy.

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