“The Mattachine Family”


Letterboxd (2.5/5), Imdb.com (5/10), TMDB.com (5/10)

When a film feels it has to beat its message to death to get it across, it loses much of its effectiveness, and that’s very much the case with director Andy Vallentine’s debut narrative feature. The picture tells the story of an upscale Los Angeles gay male couple, Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo Di Pace), who become foster parents to a six-year-old boy (Matthew Jacob Ocampo) whose drug-addicted mother (Colleen Foy) is incarcerated. But, when mom is released from prison, she wins back custody of the child to raise as her own, a development that tears Thomas apart. His anguish is exacerbated by many of his LGBTQ friends becoming parents and Oscar’s lack of interest in fostering another youngster, causing a serious rift in their relationship. To its credit, the premise behind this comedy-drama is admittedly refreshing for a work of gay cinema, but its execution misses the mark due to its unoriginal, undercooked, redundant screenplay. For instance, some of the humor is decidedly catchy, but much of the basic dialogue sounds like it could have been pulled from episodes of Queer as Folk. And then there are the trite characters and scene settings, many of which resemble entries from the Big Book of Gay Stereotypes, a lazy approach to telling this picture’s story. What’s most tiresome, though, are Thomas’s endless laments about losing custody of his foster child and his indecisiveness about how to resolve his despair, script elements that become irritatingly circular and repetitive. Even the title is somewhat problematic in that it could easily be interpreted in several ways, several of which could be taken as misleading (which I’m certain is not what was intended). In short, despite this production’s attempts at doing something inventive and different, “The Mattachine Project” is nevertheless one of those projects that clearly should have gone through a few more rounds of revisions and rewrites before being committed to celluloid.