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The Last Year (2002)

Paul is completing his last year of Bible College but is struggling with some desires that may get him thrown out of school.

Director:

Jeff London

Writer:

Russ Williams
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ron Petronicolos Ron Petronicolos ... Paul
Jason Sumabat Jason Sumabat ... Hitchhiker
Patrick Orion Hoesterey Patrick Orion Hoesterey ... Robby
Seth Adams ... Jackson
Jason Freeman Jason Freeman ... Wade
Dale Ferranti Dale Ferranti ... Jimmy
Elizabeth Flesh Elizabeth Flesh ... Beth
Merrick McMahon Merrick McMahon ... Hector
Randy Lee ... Military Man
Rocky Traylor Rocky Traylor ... Police Officer
Mike Dolan Mike Dolan ... Alex
Duane Waddell Duane Waddell ... Professor
Lawrence Rinzel Lawrence Rinzel ... Paul's Dad
Rand Smith Rand Smith ... Dean Saunders
Craig Staswick Craig Staswick ... Craig
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Storyline

Paul is completing his last year of Bible College but is struggling with some desires that may get him thrown out of school.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 July 2002 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
Mediocre (as expected from London), but with some good performances
24 January 2006 | by eslgr8See all my reviews

A film that could have been a serious depiction of young gay men attempting to reconcile their religious convictions with their sexuality becomes instead an often unbelievable melodrama bordering occasionally on gay porn fantasies. (When a supposedly straight student in a Bible college tells a gay student in the locker room "Take my 8 inches," you know you're far removed from reality.)

The film is also hampered by a pair of truly execrable performances by Rand Smith and Lawrence Rinzel. Poor Ron Petronicolos in the leading role of Paul has to play a number of scenes opposite these utterly talentless "actors." Hunky Petronicolos appears to be quite a good actor (despite some unfair comments posted here), but one wonders how much his performance was hampered by having to play opposite these pitiful performers. (Penelope Ma as Smith's wife seems marginally better than Smith, but it's hard to tell, as their scenes together are badly written and any actor would suffer having to play opposite Smith.)

There are some very good performances in this film: Sexy Petronocilos is a star in the making, and Mike Dolan as his boyfriend is also clearly a young talent to be watched. Merrick McMahon (who is by the way a gifted musical theater performer) nails his Latino character, accent and all, and his scene atop the tower is truly devastating and beautifully performed.

Other reviewers here have justly criticized the largely unbelievable depiction of the homophobic jock Bible college students (their locker and dorm room scenes must be seen to be believed), though I did buy the possibility that the Dean's homophobia may have come from a repression of his own sexuality and hiding of his secret sexual exploits (as the example of former Spokane mayor Jim West illustrates.) It also seems clear that the writer should have done his homework better, as a number of the references to (Catholic) Saints would not seem to fit an evangelical Christian university.

Director London might also have thought twice about casting straight actors in gay roles. Petronicolos and Dolan are both very good actors, but they never once come across as anything but straight, and Patrick Orion Hoesterey tries valiantly to appear straight, but is no more believable as a heterosexual than are Petronicolos and Dolan as young gay men. (It's called gaydar, Mr. London, and you insult your audience when you assume that we do not have it.)

Ultimately, The Last Year is the work of an only marginally talented writer/director (sad, because he has the means to make movies, but the results can never be anything but mediocre). There are many many good moments in the film, and I was often gripped by the performances of the talented young actors.

Kudos to obviously straight Petronicolos and Dolan for committing to the passionate kissing and cuddling scenes. I could (almost) buy those moments.

Then there are scenes and aforementioned performances that defy credibility and doubtless led to the ridicule the film was apparently submitted to at the Philadelphia Gay/Lesbian Film Festival.

Still, to give the film one star is to put it on the level of something like the truly horrendous Issues 101 when The Last Year is a seriously flawed (yet noble) effort, with at least some aspects worthy of a look. I hope to see more of Petronicolos, Dolan, and McMahon's work in the future.


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