Though its setup is shaped around the titular, closeted lead character (Cole Doman) and the pool bash that will wrangle guests of all stripes, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party casts its net wide, skimming the lives of a range of characters and their angsty, zeitgeisty problems. Unlike 2004’s Saved! — a similarly themed satire that gleefully stuck it to the church — the film steps back to objectively survey a growing dichotomy in culture: acceptance of LGBT people versus Christian faith.
Openly lesbian teens mingle with aging traditionalists, and writer-director Stephen Cone graciously lets everyone say their piece. Moreover, he moves beyond queerness to observe other issues often at odds with religion (premarital sex, suicide, Darwinism). The result is an ensemble piece that’s refreshingly indiscriminate, with Henry’s story becoming the through-line for a host of others. The party favors here aren’t always for the faint of heart, but they’re tailor-made for the openhearted.
Watch the trailer, below.
For screenings and showtimes, go to HenryGambleMovie.com