An intelligent and haunting depiction of sexual passion and the interplay between desire and identification, John G. Young`s first feature is a festival favorite that`s been three years waiting for a release. Set in a redn... more »eck, upstate town, it`s about a white teenager who`s totally black-identified - does his blond hair in dreads, plays hip-hop, makes the Autobiography of Malcolm X his bible - although he`s never met a black person. His life takes a turn when he falls in love with Knowledge, a young black man who`s been wounded escaping from prison.« less
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 11/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The basic themes of this film are so subtle as to be almost imperceptible, and I will leave the individual to draw their own conclusions. Arguably, its primary message may be a simple morality tale on the consequences of both internal and external homophobia, but, like any good film, there are other lessons and conclusions to be drawn, depending upon the viewer's own opinions and experience. The script is extremely lean, and although we are presented with enough information to make the plot crystal clear, I was thankful to the end that it avoided the clutter of too many details. The characters are drawn so skillfully, and the story told so plainly, that I was amazed at the amount of story, drama and conflict that the filmmaker was able to squeeze into 93 minutes of screen time. By the end, I was exhausted, exhilarated, outraged, moved and thoroughly satisfied. I had to think about what it all meant, but after replaying the film in my head after it was over, I sat back completely astonished at the talent of all involved in this extraordinary film.
Many of the scenes depicted in this movie would have been totally unbelievable in the hands of less skilled filmmakers. Too often films that credit both writing and directing to the same person wind up as a narrow opinion piece or worse; the sharing of both writing and directing duties frequently signifies an amateur production. Even if well produced, the result all too often comes off at best as a narcissistic indulgence. Occasionally, a film is enriched by one person assuming the dual role of screenwriter and director, as any film can indeed benefit greatly from having a director who wholly appreciates the writer's vision. Happily, this is the case with Parallel Sons. Many times during the unfolding of the story, I caught myself musing at how ridiculous many plot points were, and at the same time, marveling at the utter believability of it all. It is also easy to misinterpret the climax as standard melodrama; it took a minute for me to realize that the tragic ending had more to do with intent than accident, and it was almost as an after thought that I managed to reconcile seemingly unimportant revelations from one key scene with the shattering climax. Suddenly the meaning of the title became clear, and my satisfaction with this gripping piece was complete. There is the danger that many will be unable to appreciate this timely and innovative story, but those who do are in for a thought provoking experience.
If I have one quibble with this picture, it was not with the film itself, but the DVD packaging. Once again we have a film that is being marketed aggressively to a gay male audience, and once again the distributors have found it necessary to place a photo of a naked muscular torso on the box, as if gay men could not consider purchasing a film for its dramatic intensity unless it also offers a naked hunk or two. In Parallel Sons, it's absurd; there is no one in this film who remotely resembles the beefcake on the cover. I didn't expect that there would be, and having read reviews and a synopsis of the plot before I bought it, I had no expectations of any erotic content. One more time I would like to point out that I buy comedies to laugh and documentaries to learn and dramas to be emotionally and intellectually stimulated. It's an insult to assume that I would not purchase a film in any of these genres unless it included a generous helping of eye candy. "
Well-acted dramatic story about unusual relationship
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 10/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Seth (Gabriel Mann) is a bored recent high school grad, living with his father and kid sister in a small town located in the Adirondack mountains in upstate NY. Locals consider him a "good kid," but a bit strange, with his blonde dreadlocks and preoccupation with African-American music and culture, very out of place in his lilly-white home town. His father refuses to let Seth go to college in Manhattan, where he could possibly cultivate his artistic talents as well as explore his latent sexuality.
Seth is working at the local diner when he crosses paths with Knowledge (Laurence Mason), an African-American escapee from a nearby correctional facility. Despite an unusual beginning (Knowledge actually robbed Seth at gunpoint, but collapsed from an injury before he could get away), Seth is intrigued by the young man, and helps him hide from the police as he heals from his injury. Discussing the very different parallels in their lives, the two become friends, and then more, until a climatic scene in which the local sheriff becomes aware of Knowledge's presence.
"Parallel Sons" is a very low budget 1995 film, which made the most of its picturesque setting and the work of two excellent actors in the two roles mentioned. It won awards at both the Sundance and San Francisco Gay film festivals in its year of release, and deserves kudos for its non-stereotypical characterizations of the gay couple. DVD has no extras, rated R for some rear nudity and similated sex. Give it four stars out of five."
Thomas Janowski | Rochester, NY United States | 01/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was expecting a good but obviously low budget film. What I saw instead was an incredible film that in no way seemed low budget. I can't think of one aspect of this film that would suggest a small budget. This is one film that was neither ruined by a big budget or a low budget.
The acting, the editing, the sets and the use of the great Adirondack Mountains all full the senses into seeing and believing that no corners were cut financially in making this film.
Having known many Caucasion people who preferred to live an African American lifestyle, I guess I came to this movie fully prepared to understand and accept Seth. I guess the premise of the film is somewhat shocking--to think that a young, white upstate New Yorker would remain in his small town to make contact with an African American criminal instead of fulfilling his dream to get an art education in NYC.
But the lives of Seth and Knowledge were definitely on a collision course. Caring for the wounded Knowledge, Seth is given a unique opportunity to prove himself as a "brotha". Knowledge would have found this type of acceptance from no one other than Seth in this small town area.
Having rented this DVD in a gay shop, I was surprised at how late in the film the homoerotic element was introduced. But it really worked well in this subtle approach to the topic of both gay African Americans and interracial gay relations. This is a subtle version of Romeo and Juliet.
While on some levels this was an uplifting film, overall the sadness and deaths portrayed are heartwrenching. And isn't it ironic that Seth is the one who kills the sheriff and isn't it ironic that Seth's father accidentally shots him. Maybe one can't expect anything less when parallel lines cross paths."
Great film but worst dvd transfer ever!
spaceman biff | australia | 06/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is a great film , a very important film and the other reviews are very accurate....
HOWEVER the quality of the film transfer to DVD is abysmal, apart from being non-anamorphic,(if STRAND is charging top dollar we should at least get a higher definition anamorpic transfer for the money) this dvd looks like a 3rd generation bootleg remastered on somebodys home computer, unbelievable amounts of video noise, over enhancement , blocking and anything that is vertical in an image has double imaging. trees and grass look like one of those old 3D movies looked when you werent wearing the Glasses.In my opinion it is the single worst image quality ever presented on DVD.... shame on you STRAND releasing for doing such a great disservice to this amazing film"
eurotrashgirl | 12/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Seth Carlson (Gabriel Mann) is a young man of about 20. He lives in a small American town with his gun-toting father and young sister. (His mother died several years earlier). He is alienated from his father and from many of the people in town. From the outside, he appears sullen, a bit withdrawn, pensive. But on the inside, he is very much alive, dealing with both confusing feelings about his sexuality and a growing interest in pursuing a life of art, (he dreams of going to art school in NYC).
Throw in a penchant for African-American culture and a love of hip-hop/rap music, and the possibility of his being gay, and you have a young man who is in a very real way an outsider in his own town, and easily misunderstood (the local townsfolk don't seem to have changed much since the '60's, which is sad). He's never been out of the state where he lives, nor has his father. When Seth brings up the subject of art school, his father condemns it outright, not seeing the point of Seth being anywhere else than where he's always been. Despite his growing anger at the repression he faces, (even as he has yet to understand it fully), Seth tries his best to make everyone happy. He works at the local diner to make money and helps out some around the house. He takes good care of his little sister, picking her up from school every day in the family pick-up truck. Things are okay for now, but you get the feeling he's almost at the end of his rope. Enter Knowledge, one night, at the diner where Seth works. He comes in, bleeding from a gunshot wound, and attempts to hold Seth up. He's on the run from the law, an escaped convict from a nearby rehab facility. The meeting isn't pretty. Knowledge is angry, belligerent, terrified, like a deer caught in headlights. Seth is just as stunned and shocked, but he is also curious, dumb-struck, interested. (Despite his love of black culture, he apparently has never seen a black person, and Knowledge is black). The confrontation ends with Knowledge collapsing, and Seth coming to his rescue, both literally and figuratively, as he nurses K back to health at the family cabin.After some initial discomfort, a friendship between the two men grows. They finally relax, open up to each other, and share meals and laughter and music in some genuinely moving scenes. They both sense something deeper, but neither admits it at first. Slowly, it becomes clear that their feelings run similarly down a sexual course, and the opportunity for Seth to be free, for perhaps the first time in his life, shows itself.The most important, and most interesting, theme in the film is the exploration of the two man's prisons, and the similarities between their lives. They are both gay, they both feel like outsiders, they have both lost someone close to them. And they have both been in prison, Knowledge literally, Seth may have well as been. This is a rich and interesting look at the young gay experience and, to a point, race relations. The film's message can be applied to any form of outsider, and how closed-mindedness and "tradition" can stifle even the most innocent and essential of curiosities/dreams. Perhaps not a 5 star movie, and not the lightest of fare, but a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours. Show Me Love (Sweden, 1998), another of Strand Releasing's films, covers similar terrain in a much lighter way. I recommend that film as well.(This is the darker of those two stories, so SML provides a nice contrast.)"