The Twilight of the Golds (1996)
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It really started me thinking, in this day of gene mapping and in-utero genetic testing becoming safer. What would happen if they did find a gene that predisposes a person to homosexuality?
Would parents get tested and what would they do about it?
This will always be a controversial issue but there are many factors at play not the least, religion, society acceptance, family pressure, and cultural influences.
How do you go if you are anti abortion but also anti gay? Okay I know in reality that someone who was anti abortion would probably not have the test but this is the kind of issues that get raised.
Today in many countries/religions homosexuality is not accepted and they are persecuted. Would you if you lived in that area want your child to go through all of that?
It would be a dilemma. I thought the film handled the issue quite well.
There was a lot of conflict as you would expect. There was the son who asked his mother that if she had known would she have had an abortion. The feeling I got was that despite the fact she said she accepted him she didn't really and would of preferred a son who was not homosexual, he was then questioning her acceptance of him, also that of his sister.
I think I would of left the ending hanging to make people make their own minds up but understand this was a daytime TV movie and so had to have a feel good ending.
Feye Dunaway is thoroughly annoying as the Jewish Mama (talk about an unfortunate piece of casting! Sorry, Ms. Dunaway - you've done brilliant work in your life, but you shouldn't have taken this role). Garry Marshall should also stick to producing and directing and not venture in front of a camera. Thanks to the talented Brendan Fraser and Jennifer Beals, I stayed with it, despite the - at times - heavy-handed writing and the over-the-top acting of Ms. Dunaway and Garry Marshall.
The script is a disaster, but at the end of the day, it actually has something very important to say for itself. I have never seen the subject of homophobia dealt with so directly and with such bravado as in this film. It's in your face; you can't escape it...and that's exactly the intent of this film. It asks uncomfortable questions, and gives uncomfortable answers. I just wish that Jonathan Tolins and Seth Bass had given their script to a good script doctor. They were definitely going in the right direction, and deserve praise for the effort - just didn't quite capture it on the page.
Again, Fraser and Beals are brilliant, and there are additional bon bons: Rosie O'Donnell and Jon Tenney also give memorable performances.
Bottom line: an important film that should be seen, although not perfect, but hey, what is?!
The story gallantly hits on the nature and wrongful persecution of homosexuals. Early in the story, one can hardly believe how dramatic the Gold family's reaction is when the genetic discovery is made, how they can hardly say the word "gay," something one of their own flesh and blood naturally is. It's a very scary story, one that threatens humanity with itself, knowingly projecting a nightmarish perception of what may come when we truly make a technological breakthrough that actually benefits civilization, telling a fortunate story of a mere handful of characters who learn true acceptance, and not all of them do, for it just might be hopeless to end the neverending, inexplicable prejudice that plagues our progression and co-existence.
When a pastor, for instance, claims that if everyone were gay, there would be no society, he must also reflect upon the idea that if everyone were a pastor, there would be no society due to the vow of chastity. In fact, if everyone had in common any sort of orientation, there would be no society because everyone would be essentially the same. That is what is so scary about the film's suggested prediction of genetic testing for pregnancy. If people can successfully and knowingly avoid having gay, biracial, handicapped, autistic, or any other sort of a parent's less than preferable idea of a baby, society will slowly disappear.
To deny not only the rights and acceptance of homosexuals, but to also deny them existence, is to deny those of the countless gay and bi people of notoriety who've contributed so much to culture: social reformer Jane Addams, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, writers Edward Albee, James Baldwin, Alan Ball, Djuna Barnes, Alan Bennett, William S. Burroughs, Samuel Butler, Truman Capote, Noel Coward, Hart Crane, Quentin Crisp, Michael Cunningham, E.M. Forster, Michel Foucault, Nigel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams, painters Francis Bacon, Jean-Michael Basquiat, filmmakers Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro Amenábar, Kenneth Anger, Marcel Carné, Jean Cocteau, George Cukor, Sergei Eisenstein, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Todd Haynes, James Ivory, Gus Van Sant, costume designer Edith Head, singers Melissa Etheridge, Billie Holiday, actors Mario Cantone, Rupert Everett, Harvey Fierstein, Stephen Fry, Nathan Lane, Charles Laughton, Anthony Rapp, composers Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc, Stephen Sondheim, Tchaikovsky, actresses Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Cherry Jones, Jodie Foster, Mayor of West Hollywood John Duran, et cetera. The more we "straight" people socialize with, give birth to, and acknowledge the historically positive effect of homosexuals, there will be more of a face given to the gay, bisexual, and lesbian community. We will see that they are of the same nature, fears, and hardships as the rest of us. The movie's hypothesis scares me that that face could be taken away.
If only this incredible story had been supplied with a stronger sense of production value. It feels like a TV movie. It isn't given any atmosphere or visceral power, which would have done wonders for it. The cast is great, most memorably Brendan Fraser, although Faye Dunaway is miscast. She does not seem at home in her role as Fraser's mother. It seems more of an Anne Bancroft role, for instance. The constant use of David Bowie's Under Pressure on the soundtrack seems exchangeable with so many other pop songs, the camera-work is simple point-and-shoot lack of precision and if certain things like that were given more attention, this could have been a really great film.
THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS is a made-for-Showtime film, and not of theatrical quality. This is unfortunate, as it would have made an excellent theatrical release. The cast is good, but performances are a bit scattered. Somehow, Faye Dunaway doesn't hit me as the Jewish Mother type. But Brendan Fraser can do no wrong. If I wasn't already gay, I would turn gay for him! It was originally a play--- it would play beautifully on stage. Still, the film is worth seeing.
To my surprise, the film is actually pretty good. The number of strong actors in the cast helps a lot. I expected the storyline to feel mechanical but (although it is not wildly original and doesn't veer too far from where you'd expect) it actually is a step or two better than the the normal family-in-crisis-TV-movie. The actions and reactions of the characters feel reasonably realistic and not simply designed to create drama or lay out a series of points of view. And the author seems to assume that his audience has some intelligence, making his points without having any characters stand in front of a camera and "speechify." There are a couple of sort of annoying gay clichés that I would have loved to edit out, but nothing too wildly stupid.
And, of course, the underlying questions raised in the film about the coming problem of genetic engineering are both interesting and scary (and are related to any number of human characteristics beyond sexual orientation.) All-in-all, not a movie to set the world on fire, but a pretty solid and reasonably engaging piece of entertainment.
Brendan Fraser has been in. He turns in a fine performance as the gay brother whose sister and brother-in-law must decide whether or not to abort a child who will most likely be gay. The film examines the temptation to avoid the complications of having a gay child, as well as the repercussions of even considering such a choice
The initial idea is just silly. The kid MIGHT be gay...but she actually considers aborting it???? I don't think any mother would even think about aborting a child because of that. Also this was overdone and full of obvious characters and speeches. Dunaway and Marshall were not born to play Jewish parents (especially Dunaway), Fraser goes WAY over the top in his role and people spend about 90% of the movie screaming at each other. Also the ending of the play this was based on was changed to provide a nice big happy ending (that I didn't believe for one second). Still it did make me think and wonder...what if my mom knew I was going to be gay. Would she have aborted me? There is some great acting by Beals, Sean O'Bryan (as Fraser's lover), Rosie O'Donnell and especially Tenney--his shower sequence was both exciting (this man is perfect looking with a great body) and shocking (when he reveals his true feelings about his unborn child). So, even though the idea is just silly, it did make me think.
David too has to survive. He has to struggle with his family, who seem accepting of him, but who are really scared of what they do not know. His family does love him, but they never want to talk about or acknowledge the fact that he is gay and that he has had a partner for about 13 years, the same amount of time his sister has been married.
In the play, his sister becomes pregnant, and though a modern technology that her husband has developed, learns that her child has DNA that might cause her child to be exactly like her brother. Her child would be smart, capable, and possibly gay. She decides that having a gay child would be too much to bear and she has an abortion to get rid of the baby. There is a complication with the abortion and she ends up loosing her uterus.
In the movie however, she keeps the baby. Now, this offends me. I am not gay, but I find it horrific that the script would be changed so drastically. The fact that her character chooses to get rid of the baby is a major turning point of the plot and the core experience of the play. I was shocked to learn that Jonathan Tollins actually wrote the screenplay, because if it were my work that was being bastardized like this, I would refuse. It angers me that the filmmakers did not trust the audience enough to explore the abortion aspect of the piece. It really saddens me.
A happy ending? They keep the baby? What the hell does "The Twilight of the Golds" mean? It means the end of the Gold family. It means that after this generation, there will be no more Golds. As noted in other spoiler comments, in the play, they opt to abort, there are complications and she has a hysterectomy.
No more babies.
Should have renamed it "A Narrow Escape for the Golds". Pathetic.
So why do I keep feeling like this movie should have been reviewed by Joe Bob Briggs? Maybe it's because the characters are as one-dimensional as b-movie heroes -- the doting mother, the strict patriarch, the sensitive artist, the thick-headed husband. Maybe it's because the script is as clunky as any drive-in special. But mostly, I think, because of one of Joe Bob's favorite words: gratuitous.
Gratuitous bad auditions scene. Gratuitous use of Rosie O'Donnell. Gratuitous shower scene (Ok, that one I enjoyed.) Gratuitous Jewish patriarch. Gratuitous 'half-naked guys in gym' scene. Gratuitous male bonding. Gratuitous homophobic neanderthal.
Still, the film isn't completely without charm. Brendon Fraser is excellent, casting and Faye Dunaway as a Jewish mother was priceless. I just wish they'd given it a different title, something like: 'Prenatal Testing: A Promise Or A Threat?' Then, at least, I would have known what to expect.
All and all, I liked this movie, even though it was kind of pathetic and offensive.