LLGFF 2013: I Do

I Do was one of those films, which the more I think about, the more I really do think I enjoyed. Containing the perfect balance between sexiness and story line, concentrating on Jack Edwards (played by David W. Ross, of 90s boyband BAD BOY INC. fame), a British gay man living in New York City. When his brother dies in a car accident, he takes it upon himself to help his sister in law, Mya (the stunning Alicia Witt) bring up his niece, Tara (Jessica Tyler Brown) but things become complicated when he is threatened with deportation back to England. Jack arranges a marriage with one of his best friends, Ali (played by The Sopranos star, Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and as long as they succeed in all the relevant checks and their marriage appears real, he should be able to stay in the USA to continue with his life. When he meets the handsome, Spanish, Mano (Maurice Compte), Jack finds himself spending less time with the woman he married and more with his new boyfriend. When Ali appeals for a divorce, life becomes confused and difficult for everyone involved – and all the uncle wants to do is look after his niece.

The story, written and produced by Ross, certainly tries to deal with some very interesting points, which are currently big news throughout theworld. Namely DOMA (Defence of the Marriage Act), which restricts federal marriage benefits and requires inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States. As well as this, the film makes several interesting points about immigration laws, the situation of the family unit and gay marriage in the eyes of the law throughout the USA.

Whilst the film tells a good story, acted well and concerns itself with interesting points, I do feel there were moments, which came across as a little cheesy and fluffy – although these are never bad things. Rather than being the hyper-political film, which it could have become, it focuses much more on the sexiness of Ross’ character as well as his relationships with those around him. We concentrate mainly on one group of people, and although they are a microcosm for the situation that is on going all around the world, we also find their lives are filled with melodrama and evocative music. I do believe the reason for this is because it is the first step to actually confronting the issues, which the film is so intrinsically about – although it failed to really make any large statements, and it certainly didn’t come up with any resolutions, it does introduce the matters to the audience in a way, which is watchable.

For me, the most interesting scene is between Jack and Mano, when they are sitting in the office of Jack’s immigration officer and Mano

proposes. Luckily, although he is Spanish, he is actually American (good luck right?) and therefore he believes if he marries Jack, there is a chance he can stay in the country but alas, US immigration law doesn’t recognise gay marriage because it is a state by state law, and not something followed by the whole country. For me, had this point been drummed home harder and spoken about more, this film would have greatly improved. Although it is only briefly touched on, it does stick with you and stick in your throat for the rest of the film.

My greatest issue with the film was the directing, which unfortunately lacked vigour and originality. Director Glenn Gaylord fiddles with the camera and is never quite sure what he is doing – the camera moves unknowingly and just makes the experience of watching certain scenes quite uncomfortable. For the most part, nothing is new or innovative, but you somewhat forget the lack of skill due to the interesting story being told. Gaylord seems to be trying harder than need be, and at points where is trying to make the scenes more interesting, he is actually doing quite the opposite.

What really appealed to me was that a different type of gay lifestyle was represented in I Do. Instead of Jack going out and hooking up with someone different every night, he is shown to want to settle down and have a family. He wants to prove that although he may be gay, he can lead a life, just like any heteronormative family. Many may have an issue with this, because they argue that the gay lifestyle is different and that filmmakers and writers, shouldn’t be trying to align both the ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’ together, because it will not be a correct representation of this lifestyle where sex is considered different, where love is different and where lives are generally lived in a different fashion, but I do agree with Ross and believe that actually a gay man can settle down, have children and not have to go out all the time, drinking with someone different.

The other wonderful thing about I Do is the dynamic between Jack and Ali, the lesbian that he ends up marrying. Ross and Sigler have wonderful on-screen chemistry, which comes across almost banterous and as if they have known each other for years, which is refreshing and makes the drama when they spilt up even more heartbreaking when you realise that a friendship could be ripped apart as well as a family separated. It’s wonderful to see that the couple do not fulfil the stereotypes of the fag hag and her best friend, but instead, get on with their very busy and professional lives who understand that the marriage is that of convenience. It’s only when Ali starts to realise she isn’t the most important thing in Jack’s life that she starts to pull away – especially shown, in what makes a very scary interrogation scene when they have to prove they know each other well enough to be married.

There are many goods in I Do, and I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised by the range of acting abilities in the film. Although no one wow’d me, each stood out in their own little ways as they made their characters so believable and watchable. The film felt like a soap opera, in that we are focusing on incidences in a small selection of characters lives and how their decisions determine others in the group – their connections are best displayed during a dinner party where they all come together to revel in their delicately woven lives.

Certainly a good effort from all involved, I Do, appeals to all the right criteria; it’s sexy, intriguing, interesting, well written and acted and for everything that is wrong about it, you don’t really concentrate on remembering them because everyone loves a happy ending.

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