Review: “Redwoods” is a Gay Romance That’s Worth Getting Lost In

Two people weary from life meet unexpectedly and, even though they only know each other for a couple of days, discover a mind-blowing love that Changes Everything. But one of them has unbreakable commitments elsewhere — forcing him to ask, "Do I dare pursue this mind-blowing love, even if it means hurting other people?"

It’s the plot of Bridges of Madison County and Nights in Rodanthe, right?

It’s also the basic plot of a charming new gay movie, Redwoods, released last month on DVD.

Everett feels stifled with Miles, the man with whom he is raising an autistic son. But then Miles and their son go away for a week, and Everett meets Chase, a traveling novelist in town to research a book.

And so begins a brief, bittersweet love affair that will echo throughout the ages.

Look, if you simply can’t buy this premise of "soul-mates," of love-at-first-sight, you won’t like this movie. And truthfully? I don’t buy this premise either, not in real life, where I think "infatuation" is completely different from "true love," which is something that grows slowly over time.

But for some reason, I can suspend my disbelief long enough to buy it on movie screens — or at least I bought it here — even despite a wildly over-the-top ending. This is a fantasy, pure and simple, and it is exactly as ridiculous as the two movies I mentioned above.

It helps that the two leads, Matthew Montgomery (Chase) and Brendan Bradley (Everett), do a wonderful job of selling all this. Bradley, who is reportedly straight in real life, has an appealingly vulnerable quality to him — exactly what the role requires. And Montgomery, who is openly gay and well-known in indie gay film, is certainly my idea of a handsome stranger who would force me to Question Everything.

Brendan Bradley and Matthew Montgomery

Keep in mind that Redwoods is a micro-budget indie gay movie, surely made on a shoestring. As such, the synth-heavy music is occasionally distracting, the story flags for a bit, and the dialogue is sometimes a little clunky (especially toward the end when they discuss Chase’s novel their relationship).

That said, this is night-and-day better than most similarly-budgeted projects: the script is solid, the acting is remarkably good (and consistent; unlike a lot of these micro-budget movies, there are no painfully wooden supporting players). And — I know this sounds like a small thing, but it’s not — the lighting, which is so often "off" in these indie gay movies, looks professionally done.

Better still, the movie takes great advantage of the redwood forests where it is set. Too many low-budget movies are set in the front room of the director’s house, and they feel weirdly claustrophobic. This movie took the exact opposite approach — small budget, but big scope — and it absolutely paid off.

Mostly, I appreciate that, more and more, we live in an age where gay movies don’t have to always be angsty and depressing, or preachy and pointed. There are no closeted boyfriends in Redwoods, no disapproving parents to come out to.

This a pure cheese, a frothy romance — a gay guilty pleasure! And in my book, that makes this the most revolutionary gay film I’ve seen in quite some time.

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