I Am Michael
|I Am Michael|
|Directed by||Justin Kelly|
|Based on||"My Ex-Gay Friend"|
by Benoit Denizet-Lewis
|Edited by||Aaron I. Butler|
|Distributed by||Brainstorm Media|
I Am Michael is a 2015 American biographical drama film written and directed by Justin Kelly. Based on the journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis' New York Times Magazine article "My Ex-Gay Friend", the film stars James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, and Charlie Carver. Franco plays Michael Glatze, a gay activist who renounces homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Filming ran in New York City from August 11 to August 30, 2014.
Based on a true story, the film depicts gay activist Michael Glatze, who rejects homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor.
- James Franco as Michael Glatze
- Zachary Quinto as Bennett
- Emma Roberts as Rebekah
- Charlie Carver as Tyler
- Avan Jogia as Nico Gladstone
- Devon Graye as Cory
- Leven Rambin as Catherine
- Daryl Hannah as Deborah
- Lesley Ann Warren as Susan
- Blake Lee as Benoit
- Kevin Cahoon as Peter
On April 1, 2014, James Franco was added to the film to play Michael Glatze, a gay activist who later renounced homosexuality. Justin Kelly was set to direct the film Michael based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis' New York Times Magazine article "My Ex-Gay Friend", while Gus Van Sant would executive produce the film. On July 14, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, and Chris Zylka joined the cast of the film. Quinto would play Bennett, the former boyfriend of Franco's character, Roberts would play his girlfriend, and Zylka would play another past love interest.
Director Justin Kelly said that "this isn't just a story about an 'ex-gay', it's actually a very relatable story about the power of belief and the desire to belong". On August 14, Charlie Carver joined the film to play Tyler, who gets involved in a relationship with Michael and Bennett and is heartbroken when Michael rejects homosexuality. On August 15, Avan Jogia joined the film as Nico, a young man whom Michael meets and falls for along his journey. On August 18, Lesley Ann Warren joined the film's cast to play Quinto’s character's mother. On August 25, Daryl Hannah joined the film to play Deborah, who runs a Colorado Buddhist retreat where Michael goes to find solace.
Principal photography began on August 11, 2014, in New York City as actor Franco shared images from the set. On August 20, Franco was spotted during filming on Ocean Avenue in East Rockaway. The production wrapped on August 31, 2014 in Baldwin, New York. Also present in film is Musician/Artist Soda, seen as a dancer in a few scenes. He also supplied artwork for the set. This is notable to mention as he is an alumnus of East Rockaway High School under his birth name.
The film was released at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and also screened in the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It received its California premiere during the 17th FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival. The film was the opening night film of the Frameline Film Festival on June 18, 2015 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Brainstorm Media acquired distribution rights to the film, and set the film for a limited release and through video on demand on January 27, 2017.
The film drew mostly mixed to positive reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 35 reviews, and an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, " I Am Michael takes a determinedly balanced approach to its complex subject, and although the results don't always add up, they're anchored by strong work from James Franco." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average".
Peter Debruge of Variety wrote, "An unusually nuanced James Franco carries this complex portrait of a man who came out and fought to encourage other LGBT youth before converting to conservative Christianity," but concluded that the film was too dry and kept the title character too distant and veiled in its attempt to be impartial.
Boyd van Hoeij wrote in The Hollywood Reporter, "Thankfully, the screenplay doesn’t portray the story in simple terms of good or evil, but that doesn’t mean that there’s quite enough nuance or insight to constantly elevate the material above the level of a well-made-but-TV-ready biopic." Indiewire's Eric Kohn gave the film a B+ grade.
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- Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 11, 2014). "Justin Kelly Teams With James Franco & Gus Van Sant For 'Michael'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- Setoodeh, Ramin (July 14, 2014). "Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts Join James Franco's 'Michael'". Variety. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Charlie Carver Joins 'Michael'". Deadline Hollywood. August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
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- Sneider, Jeff (August 18, 2014). "Lesley Ann Warren Joins James Franco, Zachary Quinto in Gay Drama 'Michael'". thewrap.com. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Sneider, Jeff (August 25, 2014). "Daryl Hannah Joins James Franco in Gay-Themed Drama 'Michael'". thewrap.com. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Anderton, Ethan (August 11, 2014). "First Look: James Franco Goes Christian in Gus Van Sant's 'Michael'". firstshowing.net. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- Marie, Brownie (August 15, 2014). "James Franco shares new pic of blonde hairdo for gay man-turned-pastor film, 'Michael'". christiantoday.com. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- MARTINEZ, JESSICA (August 11, 2014). "James Franco Reveals Look as Gay Man Turned Christian Pastor During Filming of New 'Michael' Movie". christianpost.com. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- Christine (August 20, 2014). "James Franco begins filming 'Michael' in New York". onlocationvacations.com. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Panorama 2015: Probing the Past to Shape the Future". Berlinale. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- "2015 LGBT Film Festival". FilmOut San Diego. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- "Frameline website entry (April 3, 2015)". Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- N'Duka, Amanda (November 29, 2016). "Brainstorm Media Acquires Sundance Pic 'I Am Michael', Sets January Theatrical Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
- "I Am Michael on Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- "I Am Michael". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Peter Debruge (2015-01-24). "'I Am Michael' Review: James Franco Stars as Ex-Gay Pastor Michael Glatze". Variety. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- "'I Am Michael': Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 2015-01-24. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- Kohn, Eric (24 January 2015). "Sundance Review: James Franco Excels in 'I Am Michael,' a Provocative Look at 'Ex-Gay' Activist Michael Glatze". Indiewire.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015.