Sensitive, somewhat effeminate farm-boy Duncan Mudge can barely cope with grim, since Ma's death even gloomier father Edgar's manly expectations, and seeks comfort in petting a chicken he ...
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High school senior Ben secretly lusts after bad boy classmate Johnny. After Ben gives Johnny a ride home one night, the boys end up in Johnny's swimming pool and have an encounter that breaks the rules and blows Ben's mind.
Sensitive, somewhat effeminate farm-boy Duncan Mudge can barely cope with grim, since Ma's death even gloomier father Edgar's manly expectations, and seeks comfort in petting a chicken he associates with his late Ma. Macho mate Perry Foley, who has it physically even harder on his dad's farm, usually comforts Duncan and defends his 'wimpiness' to their cocky ruffian mates Travis, Scotty and Brent. But although clearly attracted to gentle gentile Ducan himself, the socially unacceptable suggestion of 'sissy' homosexuality makes Perry over-react and turn on his friend.Written by
Michael Burke developed the screenplay for the film at a Sundance Labs in 2000. Burke says of inspiration for the film: "Growing up in rural Vermont, I wanted to tell a story about a kid too sensitive for the harsh environment in which he was raised." See more »
`The Mudge Boy' is a tragic film about the failure of masculinity. Masculinity, at its most advanced, mature, and evolved is a protector of women, a mentor to children, a caretaker of animals, and a steward of the environment. We do not get to see this mature masculinity very often and its very rarity has led so many to believe that the only form of masculinity is its degraded form of tyranny, irresponsibility, violence, and mindless cruelty.
This film is close in genre to a prison movie or film noir. Its males, except for young Duncan, the Mudge boy himself, are all so degraded that they are fermenting in their toxic wastes and are unable to produce any positive energy even if only just to get the hell out of there. Their isolation cells are not made of steel bars, but of the wood of dense Vermont forests and the walls are not made of stone bricks, but of rolling green hills covered in pasture. Their prison is made of insularity and ignorance. The film is so relentlessly dark and uncomfortable to watch with its atmosphere of ever-existing potential and erupting violence, and with any hope of redemption wrung at the neck, that I think of this as a new genre, "rural' film noir, instead of urban, and something that should be categorized alongside a movie like `Deliverance'.
Femininity, with its life-giving fecundity, fares only slightly better in this film with at least one female having enough compassion to not only extend tenderness to someone weaker, but also attempt to protect herself from physical exploitation. But even she is ultimately helpless and alone in the face of relentlessly rampant violent and unrestrained male energy to which women are only as useful for copulation as animals are for the extraction of eggs and milk. The Mudge boy's mother, too, who in her absence seemed to leave her husband empty of all reason to live, had only herself been sucked dry of her life blood and left to die with an empty heart. The illusion of escape afforded by alcoholism was not enough to protect her with her basketful of tender eggs from the same fate of her beloved and memorialized chickens. How much better will her son fare?
So much of the Mudge boy's mother lived on in her son, but so did so much of his father, who was unable to communicate the needs of his heart and thus left his son alone with this rejection of their mutual need for tenderness. Although this film is presented as a gay film, and even won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, this is much more a father and son film, and a story about how ultimately lost masculinity can be without fully developed and receptive hearts.
In this film's setting, the gentle, caring heart of the Mudge boy could be considered feminine and weak by those who confuse such qualities with the homosexual, but I think the boy's desire was only for tenderness and understanding, as was his father's desire. And in this involuted, backward setting, rather than that being enough for the men to earn what they wanted, what was required was for the Mudge boy to finally sink to a level so low as to chew off the very portion of himself that yearned for and needed such love. In the swallowing of what was precious in him, he was finally able to attract what he had wanted. But I wonder if by then, it was already too late to matter.
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