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88 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

The lovers, the dreamers and thee...

Author: Christopher T. Chase (cchase@onebox.com) from Arlington, VA.
18 September 2002

What's THIS? A gay-themed movie where nobody dies of AIDS? Nobody gets fag-bashed? Nobody has sweatily hedonistic sex in some backroom of an all-night dance bar? Not everybody has a body built like Michaelangelo's David or better? WHAT is this world coming to???

Hopefully, it's coming to BIG EDEN. There have been tons of straight, light-as-a-souffle comedies that have come down the pike, and all of them were about as grounded in reality as Alice In Wonderland. It was high time gay audiences got their own, and though there have been many steps in the right direction (BILLY ELLIOT, BEAUTIFUL THING, trick), BIG EDEN is finally the first comedy to step forward and say "Yes! Gay men over 30 do fall in love, and it all doesn't have to be about high drama!"

Basically, the plot sounds unremarkable, or like one of those TV-movies-of-the-week where it's one-good-man-with-a-past-against-the-judgmental-rest-of-the-world. A successful New York artist must return to the small, Mid-Western town where he grew up, to care for his ailing grandfather. Once there, he rediscovers friends, family and his heart's desire: a strapping, good-looking newly divorced father of two, who was the love of his life from high school.

And did I mention another strapping, good-looking fella: the Native American proprietor of the local General Store, who has had an unrequited hankerin' for the artist himself all their lives?

There are a thousand paths this storyline could take, and in the real world, none of them end happily. Which is where BIG EDEN throws its audience a real curveball, by asking us to imagine, in the land of the Marlboro Man, out in the middle of "God's Country," that all traces of intolerance and bigotry have been all but excised. There is a group of potential redneck cowboy types right out of Central Casting, who not only DON'T rally around the Stars-and-Stripes to kick these "pree-verts" out of town on a rail, but they conspire to get the lovers who belong together...together! Along with the rest of the town's other quirky-yet-endearing characters.

The long-underrated Arye Gross, who has languished away too many years in less-than-subpar projects, finally shows a glimmer of what makes him perfect leading man material as Henry Hart, the "hero" of the piece. Tim DeKay takes the role of Dean, the straight-but-confused best friend whom Henry would like to be more, and makes him sympathetic, even though there are scenes where you want to reach into the screen and just slap him around a little...As Henry's best female friend in Big Eden, and as the quintessential grandfather, Sam Hart, Louise Fletcher and George Coe (respectively) take temporary vacations from the kind of characters they usually play, to give us vivid portrayals of good people with good hearts, who want nothing more than to see someone in their lives made very happy.

Rounding out the cast is the excellent Nan Martin as the marvelously meddlesome Widow Thayer, who gets some of the movie's biggest laughs. Ditto Viane Cox, playing Henry's New York promoter, agent and no-BS friend.

The most stunning casting coup, however, in a cast of really fine actors, is Eric Schweig, who plays Pike, the third man in the shifting love triangle. Someone mentioned before that he comes off at first like Will Sampson's Chief in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, until you realize the reasons why he's acting the way he does: ever been in love with someone so badly, you could barely look at them, speak to them, or even bear to be around them?

We are still light-years away from a world where a committed same-sex couple of either gender can display open affection for one another, and have the gasps and giggles it would elicit from onlookers be supportive rather than derisive. But bless writer/director Thomas Bezucha for asking "What if?" and then showing us the blissful result.

Finally, a gay-themed film I can show to my mother without blushing.

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62 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

Perfect Recipe: Just enough hearfelt sweetness, and no "FABulousness"!!

10/10
Author: hippiedj from Palm Desert, California
11 August 2002

Big Eden is a breath of fresh air!

I would like to shake director Thomas Bezucha's hand and thank him for the kind of film I have been waiting for for years: a film in which gay men were represented in all shapes and sizes, where they actually were OVER the age of 30, and where they were just regular guys! No drag queens, no fey lispy men snapping their fingers saying "you go, girl," no circuit boys and their designer drugs, no latest club hit from Cher, no stereotypes played for laughs. I was happy that the film All Over The Guy was a step in the right direction, and Big Eden is the one film that has broken through that barrier and gosh darn it, SOMEONE had to do this!

Realists and critics like Roger Ebert have totally missed the point of this film, saying no town could be this welcoming to gays and lesbians and supportive of their lives. The filmmakers wanted to present a "what if" situation in which there was no bigotry, so that the focus of the story would be on the self discovery of the three main leads and the romance. What's so wrong with that for a change? The fact that this was done so well helps even more. Takes you back to films from the 1940s and beyond. Think of it this way, if this were a story about heterosexual love, then there would be no question about the whole town's support and helping get the lovers together. That's the focus of the story, so by eliminating the "bigotry and hate" aspect, we can just sit back and enjoy what this film is supposed to be about: intimacy and where you belong.

As Henry (Arye Gross) is visiting his hometown, he finds he still has feelings for a friend from his childhood, Dean(Tim DeKay). In the meantime, Henry is perplexed about the behaviour of the Native American store owner named Pike (Eric Schweig), thinking the guy doesn't like him (a deleted scene elaborates on this fact, Henry says "he didn't even like me back in high school.") Ah, but what is REALLY behind Pike's actions? There is quite a bit of vague behaviour so that you're left thinking "who's really smitten with whom here?" Eventually, Henry realizes the true meaning of his feelings for Dean and with a heartfelt film like this, you just know that somehow everyone will find a degree of happiness and not be left hurt.

This is a film about friends and family, and most of all, HOPE. It's refreshing to see a focus on the story without trying to make sure there's enough cussing to garner a certain rating or "cute, naked bodies" to lure some in who would normally not be watching a film like this in the first place. One reviewer was offended by the casting of a Native American in Big Eden, well I say KUDOS to to casting Eric Schweig -- I personally know gay Native Americans and as that saying goes, "we are everywhere" and you can't deny that certain races or nationalities have gays and lesbians in them. In a time where too much focus is on lipstick lesbians and how you can just work a movie around that, it's so wonderful to have a film like Big Eden defy all the typical cliches and dare to give us a rather wholesome, healthy portrayal of gays -- one in which we do value our families and their support, and have other values instead of what people seem to think it's like from watching Queer As Folk.

I've always felt Arye Gross would be given a great lead role one day, and he plays Henry so well, so much like a "regular guy." I for one am so happy that a film like this is showing gay men do have lives beyond the age of 30, and can be just as desirable. Tim DeKay may be eye candy without a shirt for some, but his character is still grounded in reality and he handles that part quite well. Eric Schweig is simply perfect, his character shows that you can't just look at someone and say "that's gay for sure." Louise Fletcher is so loving you just want to hug her, and George Coe gives his role a lot of respect.

Big Eden was a big winner at numerous film festivals, and I am so happy that all involved in making this dream of a film a reality (and a REAL reality situation for our lives someday soon) are being given a lot of respect for this vision!

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40 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Oh, if the world was truly that accepting!

9/10
Author: Maryann King from Toronto Canada
27 July 2004

What a marvelous movie! A gay romantic comedy. Going home to find out your secret life isn't really much of a secret, and knowing that some people actually want to help you find what you thought you would never have.

I have watched it twice on the movie channel now, and I love it. It is hard for me to imagine life actually being like that in a remote place. I am not gay, but this movie reinforced for me, that gays are looking for the right love just like straights. OK, so I'm a romantic. I can only hope that this was really someone's experience.

Hopefully we will see more of this kind of thing, until it is no more unusual. Yea!!!!

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42 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Not just another gay movie, but a great romance and drama

Author: jynx696 from Austin, TX
28 August 2004

This was a great movie. It was beautifully shot, showing a northern-ish small mountain town throughout several seasons (it reminded me of Northern Exposure more than once). The plot is by far one of the most realistic and engaging of the many gay movies I have watched. It isn't as agenda-driven as many of the gay films being made these days; it was first and foremost a beautiful story about accepting yourself as an adult, navigating complicated family relationships, and finding/nurturing/accepting relationships that are good for you rather than chasing after pointless fantasies of romance. Even my very-straight-husband loved it (and teared up at the end when the protagonist finally picks the right guy!). It was a great story. The acting is very impressive too. I would absolutely recommend it to both gay and straight audiences.

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39 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Best little film ever made

10/10
Author: pyotr-3 from Washington DC
7 November 2004

Unbelievably wonderful performances by all the main actors in "Big Eden" make for one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Arye Gross plays Henry, a New Yorker who returns home to the rural West when to take care of his ailing grandfather. There he runs into his old friend Dean (played by the irresistible Tim DeKay), seemingly bisexual but it turns out he is straight, who is now divorced, with 2 children. The old fascination with Dean is rekindled - but meanwhile another man from his past, Pike (played with amazing depth and dignity by Eric Schweig), a Native American, is smitten with Henry.

Henry is no cook, so he arranges for the Widow Thayer - played by Nan Martin in the most delightfully memorable manner - to cook meals for he and his ailing grandfather Sam (the wonderful George Coe). Widow Thayer's meals are horrible (famously horrible) so Pike starts to cook Henry & Sam's meals himself without telling them. He is totally in love with Henry, but can't work up the nerve to let him know so. He just pours his love into the meals that he prepares.

Will Henry & Pike get together? Or will Henry remain smitten with Dean? This delightful film doesn't let you know until the end.

One of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in a film takes place in this film: Pike sees a painting that Henry did of stars at night. He then tells a story from his tribe about children who floated up into the sky and became stars. I won't attempt to tell the story here, but I assure you that this one story is one of the most beautiful things you will ever hear or see. It applies perfectly to Henry's situation, but it is a story that anyone can relate to and learn from.

"Big Eden" is simple yet elegant. It is country yet universal. It is "Andy of Mayberry" for the modern era, a microcosm of how the world ought to be. So stunningly beautiful that you will want to watch it over and over and over again.

Bravo! to everyone associated with this loving, magnificent film!

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35 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

IT COULD HAPPEN

Author: jessenakedman from Stapleton, New York City
27 February 2004

Until a few days ago I had never heard of the film BIG EDEN- and am still not quite sure from where the title came. I appreciated the total absence of any gay stereotypes and while it stretched one's imagination (greatly) regarding the plot and how it was presented in the film, in my mind, it could and has happened in just the way the director envisioned it. It would seem that his choice of a mythical(?) town in northwestern Montana was very much on purpose - making the whole thing improbable, at best. Still, that very romantic situation has happened a great deal in small town USA. Our director has changed the gender mix and I believe asked us to challenge our own human prejudices and failings. To a person, everyone in the film was completely believable. It was a romantic love story, as I saw it, with an unexpected but nevertheless real, valid, and honest gender mix. At one point it is obvious that the grandfather knows that his grandson is gay and is hoping that he will confide and share that with him. Some of the towns people depicted in this film are almost ALWAYS seen as conservative and close-minded and downright prejudicial in other films that deal with this particular subject matter. I'm happy to say that I do know lots of open-minded, live-and-let-people who would definitely enjoy and applaud this gem of a film. With all the sudden controversy about same-sex marriages it would seem that its appearance on cable tv was not only timely but very much on purpose. I have a longtime friend who grew up in Montana, and although he has yet to see the film, I'm quite sure that he would agree, that this particular romantic love story could NOT have happened as it did in the film in this small town in Montana. I'm more certain it could and has happened in more urban cities, like NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, et cetera. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend the film to anyone especially to those who have NEVER considered life without stereotyping others, or that LOVE and LOVING is not only the most beautiful and powerful gift we can give to and receive from one another, but it is also both limitless and has NEVER been gender specific. For me it is the highest form of human behavior and the very best experience we can have and share in our all too short lives on Earth. I'd enjoy hearing from others and their comments about the film. Our main character, unfortunately, is still too ashamed of who he is and is the direct source of his difficulty in telling his ailing grandfather of his gender affection for two of his male friends. Again I highly recommend this film as an alternative to all of the violent,negative, and mean spirited films that the Hollywood seems to happily produce for public consumption and in doing so, laugh all the way to the bank. Peace with out - Jesse

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32 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Gay man from Montana says, "good film"

9/10
Author: Buck (bfoss@bigfoot.com) from Rural New Jersey
2 September 2003

Since I am from Great Falls (2nd largest town in Montana - about 34,000) and gay, many folks told me I'd love Big Eden. Overall, it's decently well acted, extremely well filmed and directed, but tends to be (mostly) unsurprising. However, there were a few emotional surprises (his best friends' thanksgiving confrontation that true love need not be sexually based) and, for me, more than a small element of truth.

While the other commentaries here are mostly accurate, I wanted to give a small view from an ex-Montanan who recently had to go back to care for and later bury his grandmother (hmm, seems like a plot line in there somewhere). The movie's portrayal of a gay accepting (but, as in the film, a nearly unspoken acceptance) Montana was pretty accurate.

When I came home to Montana, no one in my large extended family could not have known my "situation". However, while it wasn't addressed directly, it was clear that it wasn't a big deal. My family went out of their way to introduce me to other members of my "community", including a few cousins that i never had guessed. It seemed Montanans expend enough energy getting through day-to-day to forego taking precious time worrying about some label. Clearly there it was who you are, not what you are. And most importantly, could people depend on you.

So, while many people compare this movie to Northern Exposure (which I dearly loved), there is an element of truth beneath the fantasy. Kudos to a well done film

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Sweet great movie

9/10
Author: sdbloom from Spain
1 May 2004

Finally, I've found it. A "gay movie" that isn't really "gay". Homosexual characters are not coming out teenagers, they don't are specially handsome, they don't go to gay bars or buy gay magazines. I can't say that they are "common people", but that's not because of their homosexuality.

This movie talks about wishes and fears, and how we need to confront them in order to accept the good things life has to give us. The plot is well written; maybe too idealistic in some ways, but this doesn't matter very much. Actors did a great job, specially Arye Gross. And well, landscapes are beautiful.

Is a very good movie. I really enjoyed it from the first minute to the last.

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22 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Too good to be true...still a warm, wistful romantic comedy with its heart in the right place.

7/10
Author: gary brumburgh (gbrumburgh@pacbell.net) from Los Angeles, California
8 July 2001

'Eden' is right...for this rustic, fictional Montana town is a gay-embracing garden paradise. And why not? Movies are for dreamers and in this dream of a movie we get to witness a basically straight-laced, flag-waving midwestern town embrace homosexuality like never before. In fact, the town is more openly accepting of the gay lifestyle than the rather emotionally repressed romantic trio who are at the core of the piece. And therein lies its simple bouquet of a message. The only one who usually gets in the way of you being yourself...is yourself.

A lovely cross between Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks fluff and "Northern Exposure" quirkiness, "Big Eden" insists on keeping it merry and informal, confident in knowing that its casual, natural stance on the whole gay element actually gives it universal appeal.

Arye Gross fills in for Meg here as Henry Hart, a former citizen of "Big Eden" who many years ago moved to the Big City to 'be himself'. The prodigal son, still single, reluctantly returns home following the illness of a beloved relative and is surprisingly met with open arms. The rather chummy, eccentric inhabitants, in fact, hatch matchmaking plans to hopefully dissuade him from leaving.

Tim DeKay plays the muscular, clean-cut Dean, a former school chum and longtime crush of Henry's who has returned to his roots following a failed marriage and is now a doting single parent with two kids in tow. Henry is hoping to spark the dormant but still smouldering feelings they once shared. Eric Schweig plays another classmate, Pike, a strong, silent, highly sensitive Native-American who has longed for the unsuspecting Henry since their early school days.

The story keeps its limited sights on the amusing entanglements of the trio, never allowing itself to get overly serious or preachy. Things may end up a bit too tidy and neat, but, again, the beauty of the piece is in its "gay is normal" approach and almost 60s-like wholesomeness.

The performances are nothing spectacular to write home about, but nevertheless quite winning and thoroughly entertaining. Arye Gross (former of "Ellen") is a pleasant centerpiece, as a man searching not only for love, but for himself and his place in life. DeKay is equally charming as Henry's object of desire though his sexual confusion (or acceptance) seems puzzling coming from such a liberal-minded town. Schweig, looking like he belongs in a production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" instead of a gay love story, overplays the unbearably shy, intensely quiet type at first, but eventually relaxes into his role as he begins to make his feelings known.

The mirthful supporting cast is littered with fresh takes on old stereotypes, none more so than the wonderful Nan ("Goodbye Columbus") Martin as the brazenly intrusive Widow Thayer, whose bold, Yenta-styled matchmaking methods are never less than delightful. Louise Fletcher and, particularly, George Coe give wise, restrained performances that lend a touch of class to the silly antics and superficial tendencies of the story. Veanne Cox too provides a bit of amusing sass as Henry's endearing 'Big City' partner and friend.

"Big Eden" settles in as one of the more 'feel good' movies of the year. I think even Doris Day would give it her stamp of approval. A welcome time-filler indeed.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Warm-hearted People In Cold Montana

7/10
Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
24 February 2005

An artist living in NYC returns home to Big Eden, a rural area of Montana, to care for his ailing grandfather. The artist gets reacquainted with people from his past, including an old high school friend. Romantic complications ensue.

This is not a film for viewers looking for lots of fast paced action and excitement. It's more of a character study that focuses on the lives of warm-hearted, ordinary people who are caring and sensitive. People spend a lot of time cooking and eating. (I don't recall a film in which there was so much food). More idealistic than realistic, the film's underlying contemporary message is a welcome change from the usual Hollywood gloom and doom theme. On the other hand, some of the relationships between characters are not obvious, which renders a slightly muddled story.

Overall, "Big Eden" is a well-made movie with good production design, adroit cinematography (that captures a beautiful landscape), and fine acting. And, I like the Tex-Mex music, though to someone like me who lives in Texas, the music seems a little out of place ... so to speak. But maybe not.

One of the best things about "Big Eden" is the inclusion of Nan Martin as an elderly gadabout. With her deep-throated voice and her animated expressions, she stands out as a unique, and thoroughly entertaining, actress. Would love to see her in more films.

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