Review by Lavanya
A matured drama with several factors to think about, filmmaker Stephen Cone has brought an unusual, yet significant idea on the silver screen. Screened during several film festivals, while receiving positive reviews and appreciation, the movie ‘Henry Gamble’s birthday party’ is all set to be released on 8th January 2016 in theatres. Revolving around the celebration of Henry Gamble’s 17th birthday party, this movie portrays the feelings and thoughts of the confused birthday boy.
As Henry (Cole Doman) takes one step towards adulthood, he finds himself in a battle with freedom, choice and compulsion. While dealing with a new wave of sexuality, attraction towards his male friend Gabe (Joe Keery) pulls him towards confusion. With religious theme surrounding the house, Henry experiences the fear of moving towards unexpected beliefs and unrecognized customs. As son of Pastor Bob Gamble (Pat Healy), Henry faces the tension of falling for unconventional practices.
Dealing with this trouble, as the day progresses ahead, the story takes us closer to the consequences of independent thinking. Caught between parents, religion, friends and his own inner self, Cole has done a wonderful job of the confused teenager. With the aid of soft background music, the movie is able to depict these contrasting thoughts floating within his mind.
Surrounded with friends from school and church, when they all enjoy a swimming session, topics such as religion, secularism, college and homosexuality dominate their talks. While listening to diverse views, judging their opinions, watching the behavior of his friends and the adult members; Henry’s search for answers shall force the audience to think too. Depicting his conflicts in a realistic and simple manner, filmmaker Stephen Cone has ensured an instant connection with the viewers. While life takes Henry towards situations of the future, questions about right or wrong keep him completely occupied. As his 17th birthday marks the start to independent thinking, he finds it difficult to comply with his parents on every single matter.
Ignoring his friend Logan (Daniel Kyri) for displaying feelings of affection in the past, when Henry finally makes a decision towards the end, it provides an insight into the outcome of a day-long battle.
Apart from Henry and his friends’ awkward transition towards adulthood, the movie portrays troubles of the grown-ups. From Henry’s mother Kat (Elizabeth Laidlaw) who is guilty of moving away from an unsatisfying marriage to his freshman college sister Autumn (Nina Ganet) who is tempted to involve in a sexual relation despite her strong inclination towards religion, from discussion about sensitive topics such as sex trafficking to whispers about a young guest’s suicide attempt for unconventional beliefs, the movie deals with mature topics in a different manner. As the prohibited factor of alcohol gains an entry into the party, the movie takes us through temptation of the adults.
Portraying a caring, loving, protective and friendly image as a father, yet displaying a strict conduct towards religion, society, values and principles, Bob’s character demonstrates his resistance towards modern unusual beliefs. Though the movie depicts several shades of adulthood, it preserves the freshness of teenage and its awkwardness to deal with maturity.
With several characters and their complex stories packed within 80 minutes of show time, the movie demands utmost concentration from the viewers. As background stories of few characters are left to the imagination of the audience, it does come across as a difficult task.
Touching sensitive topics around a simple theme of birthday celebration, this movie offers a matured look towards the unconventional matters of life.
Will Henry win the battle of his mind and decide to choose freedom over compulsion?
Will his mother overcome the guilt of moving away from their marriage?
Will Henry’s sister stay away from temptations and walk over the path of faith?
Watch this movie for its novel concept, matured storyline, realistic acting and fresh theme. A celebration of freedom yet surrounded by rules, this movie is a new-age look of the modern world.
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