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‘Stonewall’ Is More ‘Forrest Gump’ Than ‘Selma’

Category : Entertainment


Village Roadshow

Being that it’s called Stonewall, the site of a landmark 1969 gay rights protest in New York City, you might assume that Roland Emmerich’s new film (written by Jon Robin Baitz) is all about this historic event: how it started, the major players, the lead-up to and aftermath of, etc. A sort of gay rights Selma. You’d be surprised, then, to find that for much of its running time, Stonewall is a coming-of-age tale about a beautiful young gay man named Danny. Danny is from Indiana.

Danny, played by War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine, has brought his perfect hair and all-American looks (but not accent — he still sounds British when he’s mad) to Christopher Street, trying to understand his place in the world as a gay man on the cusp of a revolution, both in gay thinking and in society’s treatment of gay people. As Danny acquaints himself with some of the key people and places in the late ’60s New York City gay subculture, he becomes something of a Forrest Gump character, a fictional ingenue bumbling his way through the real history of the gay rights movement. Forrest was dumb but fast, and a ping-pong prodigy; Danny has incredible lips and cheekbones, and looks like a human Ken doll. Stonewall‘s LBJ moment comes when Danny gets strong-armed by a real Christopher Street hustler named Ed Murphy (played here by Ron Perlman) into turning a trick for a powerful man who it’s strongly implied is J. Edgar Hoover.

Hokey as it might sound, having a dopey stand-in through whose eyes we can try to navigate this world is actually an appealing conceit. Society doesn’t want you,...  Read More

Vince Mancini

Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco, and the founding editor of FilmDrunk. You can find more of his work on FilmDrunk, the Uproxx network, and all over his mom's refrigerator.

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