The fictional story line of Stonewall is framed by a piece of re-created gay history that has been chronicled before, primarily in such documentaries as Before Stonewall and After Stonewall. But here director Nigel Finch... more » constructs a multilayered entertainment set in and around the Stonewall riots of June 1969 (in New York) that marked the start of gay rights and activism. Stonewall is engaging and sympathetic to the plight of gays everywhere, who survived a world where homosexuality was a fate worse than death (and often resulted in it). This is a movie about survival, oppression, and the self-loathing that is inflicted by a world that refuses to understand anything different from mainstream morality. Within that dynamic is a familiar subplot about a young rube, Matty (Fred Weller), who comes from the Midwest to the big city in order to find himself and falls for a drag queen named La Miranda (Guillermo Díaz) in the process. Finch, who died prior to the film's completion (it was finished by producer Christine Vachon), uncovers something joyous in the angst of his characters and in the factual context of material that might have seemed overworked in less committed hands. --Paula Nechak« less
"Stonewall is a joy to watch on many levels. As an historical (with a liberal dose of fiction) account of the Stonewall riots it shows the horror of the hatred and oppressions gays, trannies and dykes had to endure. As a love story it celebrates diversity and shows the difficulties that occur when a relationship is not sanctioned by society. As a drag musical it rocks.As a student of gay and lesbian history and the fight for human rights it was interesting to see a film that blows away the myth that gay and lesbian rights are a white middle class issue. The Stonewall riots were about multiple layers of oppression and it is well documented that it was the latinos, blacks and transvestites who, on that night, finally said enough is enough. The contrast with the conformist white middle class push for equality on someone else's terms is handled well.As for the performances, they are uniformally excellent. Guillermo Diaz is superb as La Miranda, Fred Weller great as Matty but it is Duane Boutte who is unstoppable as Bostonia. Her role as Queen of the Scene is a showstopper. The drag musical numbers are handled simply and effectively with a great 60's girl bands soundtrack. The story involves several relationships of various people all revolving around the Stonewall Bar and leading up to the night the riots commenced. The tragic events (including wonderful footage of Judy Garland's funeral) build to boiling point with an emotional intensity. The relief and celebration once the actual riots commence are palpable. The film manages to capture the fear and pride that the rioters must have felt in actually being there.See this film for a wonderful fictional account of one of the turning points in human rights history. See it to remind yourself that it wasn't that long ago that gays and lesbians were less than citizens. See this film because it captures the way in which society can condone or not condone relationships. Above all just enjoy superb acting, wonderful music and an engrossing script."
Good story, history for those who don't remember
John S. Mclachlan | Boston, MA USA | 02/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Enjoyed this movie. The (i believe) fictional characters provide an entertaining story and backdrop to the real Stonewall event. We tend to forget how gays & lesbians were treated as real criminals as little as 30 years ago - when police raided gay bars just to beat up the patrons, and get their names published in the daily paper, assuring you that you would lose your job and be outted in a very public way. I was cringing in my seat at some of the stuff we had to deal with back then - considering how open we are today. Really makes you think.Nice film with a cute story against the historical backdrop."
Watch it for the Drag Queens
Kramer | New Haven, CT USA | 07/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The amazing thing about the Stonewall riots is that while they happened only 31 years ago, no one really knows what happened. The press coverage was completely inaccurate and homophobic, and if everyone who said they were there actually was, Manhattan would have crumbled under the weight. With that said, this is a very warm rendition of what could have happened. In some places the story is right on accurate (the drag queens and their can-can lines are fact, that is one thing that historians are pretty sure about, and at least one drag queen showed up at the daft board in full drag). In other places the movie presents a plausible idea of what might have happened (no one knows what sparked the riots, but a drag queen who was being arrested and who resisted is one of the theories). Not that the whole movie is fact, obviously the characters were made up, and in some areas the film takes poetic license with history (the final bar that the Village Voice reporter ended up in was a gay bar, but it was not the Stonewall). What is more disturbing is that the film compressed the decades of struggle by the homophile movement into one year, portrayed NYC as the only place where homophile activism was going on, and presented the movement a monolithic as opposed to multi-fractioned. In the end though, the story is sweet, even if the dialogue is laughable at times. It's a great way to get a first taste of the riots and an idea of what was going on at the time. Guillermo Diaz was amazing as La Miranda, and I loved all of the drag queens in the film who were wonderful. If nothing else, see this film so that you can see those fabulous queens lip sink to the amazing soundtrack."
Tongue'N'Cheek with a Message
Ismail Elshareef | West Hollywood, CA United States | 09/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was surprised of how well-made this flick is! I thought it was going to be a tongue 'n' cheek, frivilous extravaganza; well, tongue 'n' cheek it is, and it's filled with extravagant singing numbers a la Greece, but frivolous it ain't.
This fun film has its heartbreaking and sobering moments as it tells a fictional account of the Stonewall riots that started the Gay Civil Rights movement back in 1969. Even though the story is fictional, it's very real and very relevant especially in this day and age of systematic assault on our hard-earned civil rights.
Gays these days don't know how good they have it! That's why this movie is a must-see for it's a reminder that the freedoms gays and lesbians have now weren't granted to them by society then, and by then I mean just 35 years ago! These rights and freedoms readily enjoyed were fought for with blood and lives sacrificed.
Don't think for one second that those rights couldn't be taken away any second and then you'll see you quickly people turn. Complacency is a luxury we all cannot afford in this age of Patriot Acts and other civil rights slayers.
Rent it or buy it now, but please see it!"
Fabulous stereo DVD - a wonderful historical fantasy
John Frame | Brisbane, Queensland Australia | 08/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My "Stonewall" DVD arrived from Amazon today - and it is absolutely perfect:- it's in the original 4:3 ratio as expected (i.e. not falsely letterboxed to pander to 16:9 screens), but just as important it's in full, pristine stereo. "Stonewall" is regularly aired on Australia's ABC TV - but tragically only in mono. There are simple menus and minimal extras, but the DVD transfer is first class in every respect - and a fitting compliment to all involved with the film, including Nigel Finch the late great director.
"Stonewall" - The Movie was the last film project by Nigel Finch and he died before it was completed. He succeeds in stunning fashion in combining the joys and struggles of youth in an emerging gay rights movement, with the stories of people who already live through severe struggle every day - Blacks, Latinos, transgenders. "Stonewall" shows that the white middle-class gay men were coming from a privileged position - they try to challenge the law and can't even get themselves refused a drink.
Nigel Finch keeps entertainment as a prime consideration, with occasional asides into fantasy musical numbers and some excellent humour (and true drama). We form emotional bonds with several characters - Matty, Bostonia and La Miranda. Bostonia gives us a rare understanding of each transgender's right to choose what they want for their body. Duane Boutte plays this powerful and pivotal character to perfection.
Just recently I watched a tape of one of my all-time favourite documentaries "Kurt Vonnegut" (1983 BBC Films, Arena Series) and was surprised to find that Nigel Finch was the director (he directed several award winning "Arena" documentaries). Nigel's style is clearly evident in both these films - vibrant, slightly surreal, superb script, perfectly timed, absolute integrity to the subject matter and totally entertaining.
Just as with "Kurt Vonnegut", "Stonewall" is a valuable piece of cultural history in the most attractive of packaging. "