Stonewall

Metro Pulse

DIRECTED BY: Nigel Finch

REVIEWED: 10-12-98

Clearly, drag queens don't deal well with reality. And, when you get right down to it, why should they? It's not a pretty picture. No matter what kind of box office The Birdcage did, folks at large still think the average queen is some kind of sick pervert, instead of the fun-loving, mascara-wearing package of fabulousness she is. While this attitude is changing (slowly, oh so slowly), Nigel Finch's Stonewall (1995, NR) shows us one of the watershed events in gay history, the 1969 riot at Stonewall, a quasi-secret gay Manhattan club.

On its surface, Stonewall the movie is your typical coming-of-age type story—hick kid moves to big city and learns something important. But Matty Dean (Fred Weller), the hick kid, has the heart of a revolutionary beneath his aw-shucks exterior. He hooks up with LaMiranda (Guillermo Diaz), a tough queen whose fierceness masks a terrified soul, and Ethan (Brendan Corbalis), who simply must over-analyze every act and render it safe. LaMiranda and her companions function as a Greek chorus and comment on the action through musical numbers, which largely work to break the sheer misery of the plight of the homosexual in late '60s New York City. Finch's film is heavy-handed at times, but he approaches the subject with all of the over-the-top-ness that would make any Ru Paul admirer proud. Perhaps some of the rougher moments in this independent flick could have been ironed out, had Finch not died during the final edit.

--Adrienne Martini

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