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MOVIES: I Am Michael - Review - Sundance 2015

Based on a true story, I Am Michael is an intriguing tale of identity and fear presented as a “reverse coming out story”. While portraying an interesting subject matter, the story didn’t flow as gracefully as it could have and leaves the viewer a bit confused at parts.

I Am Michael begins with the titular Michael, played by James Franco, denouncing the homosexual lifestyle, then jumps ten years in the past to show the journey Michael, a gay man, went on to reach that point in his life. We follow Michael as a traumatic life event sets him forth to try to discover who he is, or is it to repress who he really is?

This film tells a story about fear and identity and how those two things can influence each other and be closely related. While watching, one would feel Franco as Michael wrestling with himself almost the entire film. In every scene, as Michael’s confusion grows and grows, you can see the silent desperation on Franco’s face. The title is indicative of Michael seeking to define himself and trying many different ways, mostly through religion, to do so.

That being said, I Am Michael was not evenly paced. The story seemed to both drag out and speed up, creating a choppy viewing experience. The film felt as if it went on a bit too long, as if the story could have wrapped up as it came full circle and re-reference the opening flash forward. The supporting cast was excellent though, particularly Zachary Quinto who played Michael’s long-time boyfriend, though the role was mostly reactionary to Michael’s actions.

The music in this film was the most remarkable part of I Am Michael, using unique sounds to set the tone. I Am Michael is a melancholy story with a melancholy pacing. It’s serious through and through, showing a person struggling deeply with the most fundamental parts of himself, a person who wants to forge his own path but doesn’t truly know how.

All images are courtesy of the Sundance Institute.

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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