Looks like I’m on an unintentional early 1990’s kick this week as far as movies go, so after Welcome to the Dollhouse I watched The Sum of Us, this really early, pre-stardom Russell Crowe flick based on an Australian play. Jack Thompson stole the show as a very well meaning, but kind of nosy father who tries his best to get his gay son into a lasting, loving relationship (Crowe’s the son and I think I like his quieter work here much better than all the epic things he’s done in the 2000’s).
It’s a very amusing movie but I fear it never quite got away from the stage version, with characters speaking directly to the audience. It’s such a stagey trick and not filmic at all, even though the writing’s so witty that it ends up being funny anyway. The woman who played the father’s love interest was very good, as well as the guy who played the son’s soon to be boyfriend. The best part was probably that the story deals with a wholly accepting father who’s so okay with his son’s sexuality that he makes jokes about it and can talk very openly about his sexual life. There are brief moments of classic coming out drama with the boyfriend and his parents, but it’s very limited and that is quite surprising for a movie from such an early age of sexual acceptance.
The part that really got me was when they showed that the guy’s grandmother was also gay and had a 40 years long relationship with a woman which was destroyed when her children decided to divide them because they were too old to care for each other. It was only a b & w flashback but quite heartbreaking.