It’s no exaggeration to say that the search for the true definition of marriage, and the concurrent issue of marriage equality, have exploded onto American and world consciousness in the past decade. Explorations on the subject have taken all forms: printed media, TV, cinema, and more. Sadly, most of the images, dialogue, and messages that finally make their way to the masses will rarely reveal in full the complex human stories behind the black-and-white statistics or the overly broad emotions on display. Glenn Gaylord’s new-to-DVD drama “I Do” is all about marriage in our modern times– and it’s a revelation.
“I Do” tells the story of Jack (David W. Ross): a handsome, gay (and single!) Brit living as a successful photographer in New York City– his home since he was a teenager. Early in the film, Jack’s straight brother Peter dies in a sudden and tragic accident, and Jack forms a close yet tense bond with his newly widowed and newly pregnant sister-in-law Mya (Alicia Witt). Fast forward seven years, and we learn that Jack, the proverbial “gay uncle”, has become something of a surrogate father to his smart and spunky niece Tara (Jessica Tyler Brown). We also meet Jack’s best friend: the self-styled and free-spirited Allison (Ali), a self-declared “gold star lesbian” played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Jack’s already complex world is thrown upside down when Immigration tells him that he must go back to England. How can Jack avoid this? By getting married, of course. Before the viewer can say, “I do!”, Jack and his eager-to-help bestie Ali are tying the knot at City Hall before a bunch of strangers. (The looks on their faces as they enjoy a “honeymoon” slice of pizza afterward is a fine example of wordless comedic acting.) Jack’s and Ali’s so-called “marriage of convenience”, however, doesn’t please anyone or solve any problems for long. Even seven-year-old Tara sees right through it, telling her uncle, “But… You like BOYS!” The plot thickens when a handsome, gay (and single!) Spanish-American man named Mano (Maurice Compte) enters Jack’s life– and any astute viewer should be able to see what may be about to happen…
Shortly afterward, big trouble appears– and it comes quickly, unexpectedly, and without mercy. It also uncovers a cache of fear, jealousy, and long-repressed anger among the people in Jack’s life. Even the main character’s chance at salvation through true love is threatened as Jack must now make what seems like an impossible choice. One of the characters tries to help him make that choice by asking him the pivotal question, “Whose life are you living anyway?”
Through the filmmakers’ strong insistence on creating fully believable characters and situations, “I Do” approaches the emotional subject of marriage– one of humanity’s oldest and most controversial institutions– in a smart, completely realized way. None of the movie’s characters– regardless of how big or small their amount of screen time– are any less than full-fledged, multifaceted human beings. Through the decades, filmmakers have tried to capture the unique stories of gay men and the women (straight or gay) in their lives when their relationships go beyond just friendship. The 1978 film “A Different Story” even told the story of a lesbian who marries a gay man for immigration reasons… with a rather fantastical conclusion. More realistic cinematic sensibilities followed in the renaissance of gay-interest cinema, but two big-budget examples, “Object of My Affection” in 1998 and “The Next Best Thing” in 2000, still couldn’t “get it right”. “I Do” is far superior that any of its cinematic predecessors… the perfect, shall we say, “marriage” of acting, script, and production.
“I Do” is now available on DVD. Visit http://www.BreakingGlassPictures.com for more.