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A Friend of Dorothy (1994)

 |  Drama, Short  |  2 December 1994 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 274 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

Winston arrives at NYU as a freshman, knowing he's gay and wondering where that fact will lead him. He falls hard for Tom, his temporary roommate who's soon to leave for L.A., and it's a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Raoul O'Connell ...
Winston
...
Anne (as Ann Zupa)
...
Tom
...
Matt
Steven Brinberg ...
Judy fan
...
Moonie (as Tom Lennon)
Tom Hickey ...
Guy in Library
Jerry Haggerty ...
Guy in stall
Bianca ...
Librarian
Reggie Cabico ...
Act Up boy
Aimee Cummins ...
Anne's girlfriend
Sara Goodman ...
Tom's girlfriend
Matt Kapp ...
Guy with guitar
Ross Kennett ...
Act-upper
Drew Lee ...
Act-upper
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Storyline

Winston arrives at NYU as a freshman, knowing he's gay and wondering where that fact will lead him. He falls hard for Tom, his temporary roommate who's soon to leave for L.A., and it's a big risk to express these feelings. Meanwhile, temptations and opportunities abound in the Village: sex in public toilets, uninhibited people at parties, and knowing Act-uppers. Plus, there are misinterpreted signals, like the ones Winston gets from a Moonie. With help from his hometown friend Anne, Winston keeps his equilibrium and finds the perfect place to meet someone: the Judy Garland rack at Tower Records. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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gay | dorm room | kiss | gay kiss | library | See All (46) »

Genres:

Drama | Short

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2 December 1994 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Cosy, but fun.
10 September 1999 | by (Dublin, Ireland) – See all my reviews

A heartwarming short, part Nora Ephron 'intellectuals'-in-relationship-inadequacy comedy, part fairy (arf!) tale. It might be argued that this latter is a betrayal of the reality facing gay men even today, but gay cinema has never been about conforming to a reality that would seek to reject, limit or appropriate. The best way to subvert a conservative system or medium is to subvert its systems of signification. This film, seemingly an anodyne WHEN HARRY MET SALLY clone, occasionally flashes teeth. Just because it sacrifices 'plausibility' does not mean that the film is not truthful or honest, whatever those devalued terms mean.

The story concerns the difficulties of a freshman trying to get laid. A familiar tale, and one here treated with sensitivity, wit and a little irony, but fully conscious of the fact that while it may be 'familiar' to many, its more difficult when you're from a wealthy, respectable family, gay in a seemingly macho atmosphere, and can't exactly walk up to anyone you feel like, without fear of hostility, as the girl at the party does, especially when the boy you love is sooo macho. (Indeed, much of the film's humour comes form the observation that macho behaviour is inherently camp, an observation given a neat, sly, twist).

Like Todd Haynes' awesome DOTTIE GOT SPANKED, DOROTHY plays with gay stereotypes (e.g. terrible music taste (Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler - ugh!), sensitive intellectualism (reading DH Lawrence, notoriously a gay-baiter, and yet who had two of his literary altar-egos wrestle nude). Not very specifically, the film seems to follow a WIZARD OF OZ logic, as Winston (after Churchill? Smith?) leaves his reassuring, but dull, and literally monochrome (we don't see it, only the black of the opening credits) home town (where he had few friends, where his parents, who open the short as disembodied Voices Of God, attempt to control his destiny, and where his father thinks he's not normal), for the strange, bright new world of The Village, armed with nothing, but a charming diffidence, adorable hair and his stereotypes (a clumsy attempt at a code for recognition?).

After he has finally consummated a love affair, he starts looking for Judy Garland CDs, and visiting Stonewall, leading into a possible friendship with an almost cultish group of Dorothies, in the film's curious suggestion that he has entered into his inheritance. Surely the film can't be saying that you're not really gay unless you listen to Judy Garland (although she IS my heroine). This Dorothy doesn't want to leave Oz; like her, and unlike most cinematic heroes, he doesn't want to be an individual, an outsider - where outside the system means being stigmatised, and lonely; but needs to belong to feel self-worth.

This is the film's real coup - although there is the fairy-tale (dreamlike?) element, the quest is filled with real pain. The toilet scene is very funny, but also very harrowing, and there is a desperate sense of frustration throughout, and of loss towards the end, as the grasping of the prize is seen to be elusive, unsatisfying and transitory. Thankfully, this isn't one of those gay dramas where doom and renuciation are all that's on offer, just life in all its frightening possiblity.

Raoul O'Connell, the star who also directed, forestalls accusations of narcissism, with a beautifully judged, deceptively rich performance, capturing many difficult emotional nuances. His film style, in which realism is slightly, but crucially tweaked, allied with an original use of music, adds to the films charm. The eventual love scene is a lovely appropriation of soft-focus hetero-romance-fantasy. DOROTHY is no classic; it has little of the darkness or power of the aforementioned DOTTIE, but its balancing act between feel-good and wistful is satisfying, if unaccountably irritating.


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