Defying Gravity is a wonderful film. It's both humorous, as well as heartbreaking, and is a film that I look forward to watching again.
Griff (Daniel Chilson) is an all American super jock frat boy. He plays hoops with a Nerf ball in his dorm room, and parties it up while flirting with the girls at football tailgating parties. Griff, however, is also carrying on a sexual relationship with Pete (Don Handfield) behind everybody's back.
After being witness to a gay bashing that leaves Pete seriously injured, Griff is forced to deal with his own sexuality, as well as the conflict of outing himself in order to bring Pete's attackers to justice. Say nothing, and he lets down somebody he realizes truly loves him, and wants more than just sex. Come forward, and he'll have to face his frat brothers, as well as himself and the feelings he's discovering he has towards Pete.
Both Beautiful Thing and Get Real dealt with "coming out" in a syrupy sort of way. This isn't to say those films are bad; Quite the contrary. They are both excellent films that I have seen and own. What I'm getting at is that it's nice to see a film that forgoes the syrup and plays it in less of a fairy tale way.
Given the fact that this was the first role for many involved, some of the acting shows strain, and ends up looking amateurish, but that didn't bother me as much as it usually would, and in fact, I think it made the performances seem all the more real. The relationship between Griff and his best friend Todd (Niklaus Lange) is both convincing and sweet. Todd is truly trying to understand and support Griff, even when he has no idea what his friend is going though. The only major drawback I can pick out is that the relationship between Griff and Denetra (Linna Carter) isn't fully explored, and I was left with wanting to see more.
Defying Gravity is not a glossy smooth production like either of the films I mentioned above, but that's not a fault, and shouldn't be considered one. Occasionally uneven acting aside, this is a wonderful film that truly has heart and I hope everybody will give it a chance.
My grade: A
Reviewed by B2410 / 10
Love is Never Having to Say I'm Sorry I Watched This Movie
Sometimes you just have to forgive all the faults and glitches and go with the flow. I liked this film in spite of its low-budget feel and empty moments, because there is a difference between profound emotion and cheap sentiment, and the script of Defying Gravity reflects the former. In spades.
Another pitfall avoided by this writer and director is that of going over the top in caricaturing his leads or allowing the story to become preposterous. The parts dealing with college fraternity life are spot on, including subtexts. (I know this for a fact.) If anything, the more extreme moments of drama are underplayed rather than the opposite.
So there is a little political correctness involved -- so what? The moment that Griff turns to Todd on that mountaintop and confesses his feelings for Pete, everything of lesser import in this story vanishes. What remains a mystery is how an actor like Daniel Chilson who shows such promise in this role did not go on to much greater accomplishment.
The heart and soul of any straightforward love story is its reflection of the highest and best motivation humanly possible as regards one person's feelings for another. Everything base and immoral is swept aside in a tide of total devotion and deep introspection, hence the notion of defying gravity.
I do not know whether this film was made for television or general release. I wish I had stumbled across it sooner. It is a simple, unsophisticated, unpretentious gem.
Reviewed by majikstl8 / 10
Griff's a frat boy. So is Pete. Griff and Pete are lovers. Griff still wants to be seen as straight; so does Pete, though Pete is on the verge of coming out. Griff doesn't like being pressured. But when Pete is injured in a gay bashing, Griff is forced to decide on which side of the fence he must ultimately stand.
DEFYING GRAVITY is like one of those moralistic religious shows they used to show on Sunday mornings, mini-soap operas like "Insight" where average people found themselves facing difficult choices. Only in GRAVITY, religion is avoided and gay sex has been added. It is sincere. It is sweetly, naively philosophical in its morality. It is likable, but it is simplistic. It is about a man who wants to do the right thing, but has to muster up the moral courage to sacrifice his comfortable life in order to do it. DEFYING GRAVITY is vanilla, both sexually and dramatically. As Griff and Pete, Daniel Chilson and Don Handfield are boy-next-door handsome and kid brother cute. Their sex is PG rated. They are given a mutual best friend (Niklaus Lange) who is unmistakably straight to let us know that it is all right to be gay friendly. Griff's coming to terms with his sexuality is aided by a lesbian acquaintance (Linna Carter) who is black, to better identify being gay with being marginalized. It is all a bit too predictable.
Yet, the film is sincere and it is well acted, especially by Chilson who underplays his part with the right amount of repressed, middle-class indecisiveness. And the film's most honest revelation is noting that most great changes in life come after slow deliberation and soul searching.
DEFYING GRAVITY is feather weight, though it hardly defies gravity. But as it comfortably sets there taking up space, it is pleasant and inoffensive and delivers it message with utmost politeness. That may make it seem inconsequential, but since most gay films wallow in angry ranting or outrageous camp, GRAVITY's low-key thoughtfulness makes it a little bit different and a little bit special.