Have you ever watched a film or read a book, and when you get to the end of the story you feel like you must have been holding your breath since the beginning?
I think it's a pretty rare thing. I have only ever read 2 books that made me feel this way*. I come back to them year after year, because as much as they make me feel like a wreck, I can be sitting there for days after, still being affected by that story like I was living it myself.
This weekend I went to see a film. I was in a theatre at a UK premiere with a few hundred people. When the credits rolled, there were tears running down my cheeks and I wanted to be anywhere else but there because I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to be in a dark room by myself because I needed to catch my breath. I'm not sure I've ever felt like this about a film. I don't think so.
"I Do" (Written by and starring David W Ross) is set in New York, where British photographer's assistant Jack is based - close to his extended family. His work visa is denied after many years living legally in the US, so in order to stay in the country, Jack has to find a solution - the options being to leave the country and return as a visitor periodically, to stay illegally and risk deportation as soon as he is found out or to marry his best friend, Ali. But things aren't that straightforward, as Jack is gay and when he meets a new love his relationships become more strained.
The main issue in the film is around DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), the problem being that gay couples in love don't have the same rights as straight ones - in this case the right to sponsor someone's green card, even if you are in a state where gay marriage is legal. (there are many more legal rights not available in a gay marriage beside this one).
Although this is the major point running through the film, it is much more than that - it is a story about relationships and family and love and the complications of life. Having never really watched anything with gay scenes before and unsure what to expect, I felt that it was well done, only what was important and relevant to the story.
The film has a twisty turny plot, and up until the very end, I found I was unsure about how things would turn out. There seemed to be little suggestions placed along the way which left me wondering 'oh, is this going to happen?'. Some very intense emotional scenes, a few things in there which made the audience laugh and the most incredible cast made this one of the best things I've seen for a long, long time. Coupled with well placed music, a really involving story and beautiful production, I found that my attention was grabbed and held from the first second and it didn't let go until the last word.
In a world which is continuously changing, it is rubbish that some people still have to pretend to be someone they are not in order to have the rights that many people take for granted. The film has come at an important time for the US as the debate continues over DOMA and the Senate is due to vote on changes to gay marriage laws.
If you get a chance, please go and watch the film and then spread the word. At the very least, watch the I Do the Movie trailer. (If you'll be seeing the film, my advice is not to look at the 'About the Film' page too much as it does have a lot of the story details on there). I hope it gets a general release in the UK. It deserves to.
This film will break your heart, but it is worth it being broken for a little while.
* Paullina Simons' books "Tully" and "The Bronze Horseman"