HENRY GAMBLE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY begins with some mutual masturbation by two friends, as one of them talks about the girl he wants to fuck. And the other boy? Well... he doesn't seem so interested in that girl. Turns out that both these adolescents, having a sleep-over, are quite religious (Christian fundamentalist variety), and tomorrow is the birthday of one of them: our hero, Henry Gamble.
Stephen Cone, shown at right, is especially adept at exploring the subtlety of relationships and how these are expressed -- those of the boys to each other and to their friends, particularly the one black kid in the midst of all these whites. (He is played with a nice mixture of inquisitiveness and care by Daniel Kyri, shown at center, below.)
Mr. Cone's dialog is smart and real, with all the exposition nicely buried within the off-hand speech and behavior, as well as in the situations that arise, most of them fraught yet somewhat hidden. Soon enough we see the hypocrisy of fundamentalist Christianity bubbling to the surface of things, as friends and neighbors congregate for the party of this very well-liked young man who is struggling with his own sexuality and how to express it.
Cole Doman (above and below) makes an auspicious debut, and the rest of the well-chosen cast is not far behind him.
Chicago Media Project -- will open in New York at the IFP's Made in NY Media Center on January 8th, before expanding to additional markets and VOD platforms. (That's Elizabeth Laidlaw, above, who does a fine job playing Henry's gracious and caring mother.)