“The Perfect Son”
“The Perfect Son” (Wolfe Video) is an almost perfect movie/ Two 30-something brothers—one is a total screw-up and the other is seemingly perfect. When their father dies, the brothers are brought together after having not been together for quite a while. When they reunite and the sibling rivalries resurface. When the “perfect” brother announces that he has AIDS. The younger, irresponsible brother finally decides it is time to get his life in order. The brothers begin to reconcile and gradually warmth and respect begins to build up between them.
The movie actually focuses on the straight brother and his journey from out-of-rehab to responsible adult. To me, at least, it seems that the gay brother is there only to help the younger brother become a better person.
What is perfect about this movie is the idea. Using AIDS as a reason to be responsible is not new. What is new is using a gay man dying of the disease to show how to live a good life. We all are aware that we do not have many movies dealing with AIDS anymore—we seem to think we have outgrown the issue. We also get the development of a relationship between two brothers who were feuding. The actors are excellent as is the script. The problem, however, is that depth is lacking in the main characters. We never know why the younger brother, Theo, took the path that he took .The gay brother, Ryan, is dying as a result of reckless and promiscuous sexual behavior. There is virtually no explanation or probing here.
The film is not about Ryan, it’s about Theo and how he transforms himself from former addict to caring guy. This causes the film to give an unbalanced look at gay life. We get stereotypes and condescension. Ryan’s history of many sexual partners is what causes the catalyst to have to shape up but what it is really is that one life s sacrificed for another.
The fact that Theo manages to make a comeback, find a girlfriend and become a father is what matters in the film. The dead-end existence of Ryan, the perfect son, speaks volumes. We pity the gay brother and all he represents is a tool of the heterosexual masses. Gay life is presented as empty and suicidal. This is not the way gay life should be presented—especially at a tie when, more than ever, we are trying to achieve acceptance.
The movie is powerful and the relationship between the characters is beautifully acted. It is simplistic but unfortunately real. The only thing perfect about it is the word “perfect” in the title.