Quiet One | MS | 07/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must see movie. A perfect mix of drama, romance, and comedy. The acting is brilliant and the chemistry between all the characters very believeable. Strong performances from the cast makes up for the brief moments that the plot falters. But over-all the script is excellent and boldly takes on the self-hatred and homophobia that religious teachings have been brainwashing people with for centuries.
Wes Ramsey (The Guiding Light) gives a wonderful performace as shallow party boy Christian who accepts a bet with his friends that he can seduce his new neighbor, closeted Mormon missionary Aaron Davis, wonderfully protrayed by Steve Sandvoss. Sparks soon fly and romance ensues between the sincere, naive Aaron and the carefree Christian. Aaron is both drawn to and disgusted by Christian, who he sees as shallow and vain. But the audience and Aaron soon learn that there is more to Christian than his party boy ways and one-night stands. Of course it all hits the fan when the budding romance of Aaron and Christian is discovered by Aaron's fellow Mormon missionaries. Aaron is sent home in shame to face his family and church while a serious misunderstanding leaves Chris devastated, his life forever changed by the encounter with Aaron.
Ramsey and Sandvoss have great chemistry and both do a wonderful job of bringing their roles to life on-screen, making Christian and Aaron complex and rich characters. Completing the cast is Jacqueline Bisset as Christian's motherly and compassionate boss Lila. Rebekah Jordan as Chris' roommate and best friend Julie, a would-be singer. Amber Benson (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) as Chris' friend and co-worker Traci, a struggling actress. Scene-stealer Khary Payton gives a funny performance as the HIV+ Andrew, another pal of Christian's. Erik Palladino ("ER") appears as a man dying of AIDS who Chris befriends. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Ryder, one of Aaron's fellow missionaries. And Mary Kay Place gives a strong performance as Aaron's unforgiving religious mother.
I highly recommend this film and applaud the cast and writer, C. Jay Cox, for bringing this controversial movie to life."
A Refreshing, New Angle for Love Stories
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LATTER DAYS is a classy little film that holds its own among the light love stories out today. And yet it is more: some unique phobias and prejudices are examined very genuinely and the result is a movie that gives us not only characters about whom we care but enlightens us as to both sides of an ongoing issue: homophobia.Bright, crisp writing and directing by C. Jay Cox, LATTER DAYS presents a tale of a West Hollywood effervescent young man who plays the bar scene and one night stands joie de vivre to the hilt. Christian (Wes Ramsey) lives in a bungalow apartment setting with his roommate Traci (Amber Benson) who is a singer (and a fine one!). Into their rather wild life atmosphere enters a group of Mormon missionaries, out from Utah to spend their requisite two years converting the world to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. All but one are homophobic, redneck types, but one of them, Aaron (Steve Sandvoss), is a closet case gay man. Julie and Christian establish a bet about Christian's able to seduce Aaron and the games begin. The courtship is actually mutual and once the two have been together it is Aaron who feels the anguish and Christian who re-examines his motives and feelings. The rest of the story is tender, deals with many interpersonal issues not at all restricted to the gay world, and revealing the ending would be unfair to the complete enjoyment that this movie offers. Suffice it to say that the cast is excellent and includes wonderful roles as Jacqueline Bissett as owner of the bar/restaurant were Christian works, and Mary Kay Place as Aaron's died-in-the-wool Mormon mother. The pacing is brisk, the acting is top notch, the cinematography is first rate, and the music score is well integrated. But the overall reason to see this film (and see it again) is the sophisticated manner in which C. Jay Cox explores one set of religious issues in the complex pattern of same sex relationships. This is an intelligent, funny, tender, and inspiring movie. Recommended."
Romance & the Pain of Personal Discovery & Acceptance
M. Hart | USA | 02/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 2003 film "Latter Days" was written and directed by C. Jay Cox, who is better known for having written the screenplay for the 2002 film "Sweet Home Alabama". The fictional "Latter Days" is set in West Hollywood, California where a gay man named Christian Markelli (Wes Ramsey) lives in a small apartment complex with his female roommate, friend, coworker and aspiring singer Julie Taylor (Rebekah Johnson). Together they work at a posh restaurant on Sunset Blvd. named Lila's, which is owned by Lila Montagne (Jacqueline Bisset). One morning at their apartment, Christian and Julie discover that they have new neighbors in a nearby apartment in the same complex. To their surprise, their new neighbors are a group of four Mormon missionaries and Christian is very attracted to one of them. Due to strict Mormon missionary rules, the "elders" as they prefer to call themselves refrain from using their names; but after accidentally injuring himself outside, Christian learns the name of the one that he is attracted to after he comes to his aid: Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss). Telling their coworkers at Lila's about the new Mormon neighbors, the coworkers make a bet with Christian (who enjoys sleeping with many different guys) as to whether or not he can seduce one of the missionaries. However, the attraction that Christian feels towards Aaron grows into much deeper feelings. One afternoon while Christian and Aaron are alone in the missionaries' apartment, Christian and Aaron kiss. This blatant display of gay behavior is unfortunately discovered by the other three missionaries, which include Elder Paul Ryder (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also played Tommy Solomon on the 1996-2001 TV series "3rd Rock from the Sun"). When Aaron is forced to return home prematurely to face excommunication from the Mormon Church, Christian runs after Aaron and has the opportunity meet him in Salt Lake City before changing planes to return to his home in Idaho; but Aaron's self-discovery has brought great shame upon his parents, Farron Davis (Jim Ortlieb) and Gladys Davis (Mary Kay Place). Christian dealing with Aaron's departure and Julie's subsequent success, as well as Aaron's traumatic experiences upon returning to Idaho is what makes "Latter Days" stand out as a truly wonderful film experience.
At only 97 minutes, "Latter Days" is a truly wonderful film that draws the audience into its very heart-warming and emotional story. Though some may regard the film as an attack upon the Mormon Church, the film demonstrates how difficult a journey it is for many as they travel down the path of self-discovery, often against personal beliefs, great personal anxiety, family disapprovals and popular societal expectations. Memorable scenes include Christian's accident, Aaron talking with Lila, Aaron & Christian being discovered, Christian & Aaron in Salt Lake City, Aaron at home, Aaron's treatments, Julie's song and the closing scenes. Overall, I rate the 2003 "Latter Days" with 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars. One interesting aspect on the DVD are the deleted scenes: on no other DVD have I seen the reasons given why particular scenes were not included as part of the theatrically released film."
Not a Classic, But It Will Have a Powerful Impact on Many
Mitchell S. Gilbert | Columbus, OH | 04/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie on a Sunday; couldn't stop thinking about it Monday and Tuesday and finally HAD to go see it again on Wednesday. No, Latter Days will not be remembered as a classic film. But for many of us, this movie has provoked a bit of soul searching about gay identity and the prejudices and vile judgments gay people are still subjected to. More importantly, Latter Days affirms the profound joy and genuine love gay people can and do find with one another.The storyline in short, a closeted LDS Missionary from Idaho, Aaron Davis, moves to LA where he ends up living next door to a hot swinging gay boy, Christian, who has all the depth of reality TV. Christian's interest is initially motivated by a bet he makes with his friends that he can bag this "missionary boy." Aaron and Christian are quickly attracted to one another and begin to struggle with their emotions, sexual needs and the painful limitations of their respective lifestyles.Wes Ramsey, does a great job as the shallow but beautiful Christian. But it is Steve Vandross, as the LDS Mormon missionary with everything to lose and for that matter, a life to gain, who really makes this movie something special and memorable. I doubt that there is a gay or bi-man alive who can see this movie and not fall in love with Vandross' character, Aaron Davis. This is incredible acting for a first time screen appearance! Vandross is totally believable as a loving, spiritual person whose humanity is more life affirming than his religious mentors or the most sophisticated free-thinking idealists can appreciate.The plot and its various twists sometimes come off as a bit far fetched and some of the direction and dialogue is weak. The bottom line though: if you are the kind of person who believes in romance and can allow yourself to get caught up in this film, it will leave you with a lump in your throat if not a tear on your cheek. If you are struggling with the challenges of being gay, it will remind you that you're OK and are as entitled to love and happiness as anyone in this world. And oh yes.... it will leave wanting to see more of Steve Vandross. Maybe it's time for me to see it a third time."