REVIEW — “Stonewall”
Disaster film connoisseur Roland Emmerich (“2012” “White House Down” “The Day After Tomorrow”) has made a name for himself with big budget films, and a lot of CGI. However, lately he has been trying his hand at more down-to-Earth (no pun intended “Independence Day” fans) dramas like “Anonymous” and now “Stonewall.” “Stonewall” could have been a very important film, as the infinitely better documentary is, as it serves to remind the public of just how bad things were for the LBGT community for decades. Families were destroyed, people were murdered, diseases were spread, and crime was on the rise due to the persecution of a group of people; until a group decided to take a stand. This…is not really that story…but it kind of is?
Roland Emmerich and writer Jon Robin Baitz, in all their infinite wisdom, decided to create some main characters instead of choosing from the vast amount of real stories that are out there, and they dropped these fictional characters into real events. Normally this COULD work, but they chose to go with the all-American mid-west football star white boy as the lead. Nothing against the actor, who did well with what he had to work with, but his story was so melodramatic and hokey, and it’s the real focus of the film instead of the major events leading up to, and immediately following, the incident at the Stonewall Inn. What should have been the heart and soul of this, this traumatic breaking point for the LBGT community that jump started a whole movement, seems like an after thought.
The cast was on-point for the most part; everyone pulled their weight. There were no single standout performances, because all the characters were written pretty poorly. However, Jonny Beauchamp and Jeremy Irvine, who played Ray and Danny respectively, did have strong chemistry as great friends. Ron Perlman always makes for a great antagonist, though he was grossly underused considering how little focus went towards the Stonewall Inn event. They definitely should have had a lot more of him, and his association with the community, if they weren’t going to focus on the most important thing. I will give them credit for including a few characters that are actually real people. However, they did very little with them, and you don’t know the significance of their role in this fight for freedom until the end credits are rolling.
What should have been a major film for the LBGT community almost comes off as an insult due to its poor focus on made up characters. Why would you ever write a script about a made up white bread momma’s boy when there are so many REAL stories to choose from? Why would you ever make a movie about the Stonewall Inn event and the Stonewall Riots, and have it only happen in the last 15 minutes? Despite these issues Emmerich proves he’s capable of directing something that isn’t filled with CGI and bad weather, but he has very little to work with here. The Stonewall Riots are a monumental event that not a lot of people know about, and due to the poor choices made when creating this the events will continue to remain a mystery to the general population. 2/5