Inside Out 2018: Our Review of ‘1985’

Inside Out 2018: Our Review of ‘1985’

Cory Michael Smith plays Adrian, a New Yorker returning home to Texas, a prodigal son who’s sitting on a secret. I would normally find this old trope and its evasive nature inherently frustrating.

However, what 1985 represents is a depiction of anarchy. There’s a book somewhere that says anarchy is not the stereotype. It’s when, as the movie shows, Adrian maxes out credit cards to buy Christmas gifts for his family.

Adrian’s Texan family rebel in their own ways too. Adrian’s mother Eileen (Virginia Madsen) voted for Mondale. His father Dale (Michael Chiklis) also reveals that he snooped around on Adrian.

His brother Andrew (Aidan Langford) sneaks in tapes of Madonna. And his friend Carly (Jaime Chung) hides her comedian job from her family. Anarchy manifests in small ways, breaking rules to become ourselves.

Or these characters do it because they love someone so much. So much that they don’t care about what hetero normative society says. That their bonds with friends and family are stronger than arbitrary rules.

The story here takes place within the backdrop of the first wave of the AIDS crisis. The movie does things differently with that sub genre of queer film, focusing on family.

1985 does have its share of archetypes, like Dale, a Vietnam vet who indulges in racial slurs. The writing and the performances save the movie from that trap, as both elements imbue characters with compassion.

It also shows allies appearing during the crisis. These conversations don’t happen formally, as the film shows its audience. They happen as a pact between two people promising to care for each other.

Writer-director Yen Tan chooses to capture this story in 16mm black and white. Although it echoes some indie films of decades past, this medium manages to evoke heart coming out from the shadows.

 

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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