Gun Hill Road (official website) takes us inside the unnerving world of Enrique (Esai Morales), an ex-con who has just returned from prison to find Michael (Harmony Santana), his son he left behind, going through a transformation into Vanessa. Enrique, a proud and surprisingly religious man, is tormented by his son's transformation, his wife's unwavering support of Vanessa, the trauma that he experienced while in prison.
This film is complicated, with deep character developments, and a storyline not to be ignored. There are so many films and television shows that discuss the complexity and societal hardships of the LGBT community, but Gun Hill Road gives an honest perspective into the difficult familial dynamic that is more present than often times acknowledged.
As his feature film debut, writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green does an amazing job of giving us real and raw insight without wrapping it all up in a nice, pretty bow. Even more surprising than this impact filled film being Green's first feature is that he is actually wrote Gun Hill Road while still in school as his thesis film.
Green isn't the only one making a debut; Harmony Santana does an incredible job as Michael/Vanessa, a transgendered teenager trying to discover exactly who she is. Judy Reyes who plays Angela does a great job of stepping out of her usual, comedic role on Scrubs, and into a serious, multidimensional character as Enrique's wife in Gun Hill Road, proving that she has talent range beyond slapstick comedy. Reyes stayed to answered some questions after the screening and shared that Santana is actually a wonderful and sweet, transgendered girl who lives in a shelter in New York. While neither Reyes nor Green shared too many details, they did both comment that they had personal experience within their own families on the subject matter which contributed to the honesty felt throughout the entire film.
Gun Hill Road is a must see in my book, and if you missed last night's screening, you're in luck! There's another screening tonight:
Next Screening of Gun Hill Road
Tuesday, April 5th at 10:30pm
Magnolia Theater #5