sum04.jpg (39892 bytes)THE SUM OF US

Directed by: Geoff Burton and Kevin Dowling
Writer: David Stevens
Also stars: Jeff Thompson (Harry Mitchell), John Polson (Greg), Deborah Kennedy (Joyce Johnson), Joss Moroney (young Jeff), Mitch Matthews (Gran), Julie Herbet (Mary)

The Sum of Us was a joy to watch.  I first heard about it on Siskel and Ebert's show, (back in the days when Mr. Ebert did not come out violently against Russell Crowe, as if on principle.)  I remember them saying that it was being shown in the US only in a few theatres, most notably (for me) in San Francisco. sum16.jpg (33039 bytes) I did not go see it, but made a happy mental note that someone's cause was being assisted by the media, possibly without payoffs.  Years later, when I did see it, I was perhaps in a less politically hospitable locale, but there it was on the video store shelf anyway.  Lucky me:)

Russell Crowe's performance is of course on the mark.  Jeff Mitchell comes across as a man whose masculinity and sense of self are paradoxically not impaired by the fact that he is gay.  I say this is paradoxical because, true to the social condition of the developed world, the rest of the community is very much uncomfortable with gayness.  And this is where the real star of the show comes in: Jeff's Dad.sum34.jpg (33976 bytes) 

Jeff Thompson's performance is completely endearing.  Harry Mitchell's sometimes blundering but often sharply acute attempts to advise his son on dating, life, and liberty build a character like few seen in film.  He is a comic hero: blithely waving his sword at the iron windmill of social prejudice, emboldening his son against the senseless but very ferocious rabble.  It comes naturally to Harry: he sees the world through the eyes of an eager modernist. 

To be fair, the rabble around them is personified by characters who really would understand if they could, who really have good hearts, only lack guidance. sum47.jpg (44219 bytes) It is in this well-meaning but clumsy little set that the story unfolds of a man whose love for his son pushes him to stand bravely beyond the pale, no matter how shocking to his neighbors, or how embarrassing for his son.  The character is priceless, the performance uplifting.


Read a review from Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto Sun

This is a beautifully acted and heartwarming film. Jack Thompson and Russell Crowe are both on top form. If you are a homophobic, then this film is probably not your cup of tea, but what a pity to miss out on one of the best films that Russell has made.
Rated: four crowes

Thanks to the Crowe Slide Shows site for the screen captures!

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