The Mattachine Family

The Mattachine Family
The Mattachine Family
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This is not merely an LGBTQ movie. It’s much more than that. The Mattachine Family, directed by Andy Vallentine and written by the screenplay writer Danny Vallentine, is a heartwarming film about relationships and friendships and longing for family. These common ideas make an emotional story that will leave audience laughing at one time and crying in another, but mostly reflecting on how lucky they are to have all the good things of life especially during transitions.

Recently premiering at Chicago’s LGBTQ Reeling Film Festival, The Mattachine Family is currently on the festival circuit. Starring Nico Tortorella (The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Younger, Scream 4), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Fuller House, Mamma Mia), Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek), Cloie Wyatt Taylor, Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Scream), Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks), Jake Choi (Single Parents) and Colleen Foy (Quantum Leap).

If you love films that touch your heart because of their feel-good nature including extended family bonds sibling ties or self determination within families then this is it.

The name of this film was derived from The Mattachine Society which was a national gay rights organization in the 1950s. It became into existence with intentions of improving lives for gay men as a result it created a strong foundation for a group of people who would not have had familial support systems. The filmmakers brush briefly against that history lesson but do not go into any detail about what was happening then. Most of our activity is centered here in the present with glimpses into one character’s past. In fact sometimes The Mattochine Family feels like some kind of hallucination.

Meet Thomas played by Nico Tortorella; he’s an introspective photographer loving his married life with Oscar played by Juan Pablo Di Pace who used to be ‘that kid’ but now he’s a successful actor. The film opens with Thomas and Oscar going through their emotional year of fostering a young boy named Arthur. It changed the trajectory of their lives, actually. Neither really wanted to be fathers but caring for Arthur has made them think otherwise.

However, when the time comes for Arthur to go back to his mother Daisy, who has had her ups and downs as well, Thomas tries to cope with his feelings in his own way while Oscar goes down different path entirely. Oscar’s career as an adult actor has finally taken off at last. He had been waiting so long for this opportunity. But Thomas was also waiting for something like this one day. He just did not know it would come in a small package known as a little boy whom he fell in love with and whose presence made him question whether he wanted kids or not.

A new TV show is keeping Oscar too much busy, so Thomas asks the help of his friend Leah (Emily Hampshire makes a good showing) who is facing procreative problems in her relationship with Sonia (Cloie Wyatt Taylor). Thomas and Leah make an excellent pair of postmodern Will & Graces as they take turns to support one another. Even Jaimie, another friend of Thomas’, who appears like a person one can get sass from just like a drink poured into his mouth is delightful to watch. For this brooding Thomas it provides some levity but at the end of the day, this guy cannot ignore every inch of his body telling him that he wants desperately to have a family. But what about Oscar?

No doubt about it; Vallentines know how to light up queer cinema. The dialogue sometimes feels like something off Brothers & Sisters more than ten years ago mixed with a little touch of sugar coating for today’s audience. Not by any stretch.

It is never easy when two people are experiencing different things and emotions at different times in their lives. Filmmakers have managed to capture these peaks and valleys that define relationships quite convincingly though gay relationships and community/extended families need no explanation before being adopted into films—let alone feature films—this one fills such gaps.

This section presents some intense moments between Thomas and Oscar, whereby they come face-to-face with the fact that both are in such points in their lives where they must decide something right away. This film brilliantly puts forth various aspects of same sex relationships as well as diverse families; you think were it instead on two heterosexuals going through similar circumstances? Maybe yes but maybe no It is nice watching characters doing different things yet passing through difficult experiences and Mattachine Family portrays this very well.

The movie has also made certain assumptions regarding all types of relationships going through several periods of growth. While this may be an LGBT story, it remains essentially a human story about the need to belong. Additionally, watching these talented actors perform is intriguing. There’s nothing out of place in the cast.

Nico Tortorella’s turn is rife with feeling and depth. Everything looks real enough. Another treat is Emily Hampshire, a favorite from Schitt’s Creek. As Thomas’ buddy Leah, she creates a fun character arc for herself complete with well-acted scenes where Leah moves through her issues and tries to get pregnant. Juan Pablo Di Pace delivers a strong performance as he manages to remain grounded amidst everything that has changed around him. The Mattachine Family does not fail as an entertaining film that can make you laugh and cry at the same time it also goes beyond being simply heart-warming or thought-provoking by encompassing all these aspects.

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