Stonewall (2015 film)

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Stonewall
Stonewall (2015 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoland Emmerich
Produced by
  • Roland Emmerich
  • Michael Fossat
  • Marc Frydman
  • Carsten Lorenz
Written byJon Robin Baitz
Starring
Music byRob Simonsen
CinematographyMarkus Förderer
Edited byAdam Wolfe
Production
company
Distributed byRoadside Attractions
Release date
  • September 18, 2015 (2015-09-18) (TIFF)
  • September 25, 2015 (2015-09-25) (United States)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$292,203[2]

Stonewall is a 2015 American drama film directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Jon Robin Baitz, and starring Jeremy Irvine, Jonny Beauchamp, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Joey King, Caleb Landry Jones, Matt Craven, Atticus Mitchell, and Mark Camacho. It was released on September 25, 2015, by Roadside Attractions.

The drama is set in and around the 1969 Stonewall riots, a violent clash with police that sparked the gay liberation movement in New York City.

Plot[edit]

The drama is a coming-of-age genre film, and centers on fictional Danny Winters, a gay white teenage boy from Indiana, who flees the conservative countryside in the late 1960s and moves to New York City. Shortly before leaving, he is discovered by friends while making love with his boyfriend. His father is upset, and while his mother is ambivalent as she feels for her son, she does not stand up to her husband either. His father then refuses to sign the scholarship application for Columbia University where Danny is supposed to attend.

Danny leaves for New York anyway, leaving behind his supportive younger sister Phoebe. After reaching Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, he is befriended by a multiracial group of young, gay, and genderfluid street kids and drag queens, and witnesses police violence against them. Danny goes into the Stonewall Inn accompanied by his friends, including Ray, and is asked for a dance by an older man Trevor, who is a member of the Mattachine Society. Later that night, the police raid the bar and arrests some customers. Danny, who did not get arrested because he was not cross-dressing, picks up Ray at the police station next day. Danny, destitute, then turns to prostitution and is seen disgraced while being fellated by a middle-aged man. Danny then goes to a meeting of the Mattachine Society, which purports to attain gay rights through conforming to society rather than radicalism. There he finds Trevor, and though they differ in opinion, they end up spending the night together.

Danny soon finds Trevor with another young man, and, heartbroken, he decides to leave the Village. But immediately after, he is abducted and forcibly sent out to a high-class prostitution business, at the direction of Ed Murphy, who runs the Stonewall Inn. Murphy has colluded with corrupt policemen and exploited homeless gay youth to his own advantage. Danny escapes with the help of Ray and the two go to the bar to confront Murphy. Then the police raid the bar and arrests some customers again. Danny is thrown onto the street as well as the rest of the customers, and, despite Trevor's dissuasion, hurls a brick into one of the bar's windows, screaming "Gay power!" This instigates the crowd to attack the police, who lock themselves up in the bar in response.

One year later, after finishing the first year at the university, Danny returns home and tells his sister that he is going to attend the gay liberation march on Christopher Street. The film ends on the day of the parade where he is marching in the street after reuniting with his friends and discovers his mother and sister on the sidewalk.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In April 2013, Emmerich spoke about the film, saying: "I may want to do a little movie—about $12–14 million—about the Stonewall riots in New York. It's about these crazy kids in New York, and a country bumpkin who gets into their gang, and at the end they start this riot and change the world."[3] On March 31, 2014, the producers announced it would film in Montreal.[4]

Casting[edit]

On April 9, 2014, Irvine joined the cast of the film.[5] On June 3, 2014, Rhys Meyers, Perlman, and King joined the cast.[6]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on June 3, 2014, in Montreal.[7] Emmerich initially wanted to shoot in New York; however, he changed the venue after finding it too expensive.[8]

Release[edit]

On March 25, 2015, Roadside Attractions acquired distribution rights to the film.[9] In July 2015, Roadside Attractions scheduled the film for a September 25, 2015, release.[10] The film opened to $112,414 with 127 locations, for an "abysmal" per-theater average of $871.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical response has been generally negative. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 10% rating based on 71 critics with an average score of 3.6/10. The site's consensus states: "As an ordinary coming-of-age drama, Stonewall is merely dull and scattered—but as an attempt to depict a pivotal moment in American history, it's offensively bad."[12] Metacritic reports that, based on 27 critics, the film has a normalized score of 30 out of 100, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[13]

Writing for Vanity Fair, Richard Lawson described the film as "maddeningly, stultifyingly bungled", the script as "alarmingly clunky" and featuring "production design that makes late 1960s Christopher Street look like Sesame Street". Lawson faults the director for taking "one of the most politically charged periods of the last century" and making it into "a bland, facile coming-of-age story", and says that the role of Marsha P. Johnson was "played as comic relief, flatly". According to Lawson, the treatment of Johnson is part of a wider lack of respect for non-white and "non-butch" characters in the movie; he believes they are treated with "only a minimal, pat-on-the-head kind of attention", showing the riots through a "white, bizarrely heteronormative lens".[14]

In The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote that the film "does a reasonably good job of evoking the heady mixture of wildness and dread that permeated Greenwich Village street life" but that "its invention of a generic white knight who prompted the riots by hurling the first brick into a window is tantamount to stealing history from the people who made it".[15] Writing for Gawker in a piece entitled "There Aren't Enough Bricks in the World to Throw at Roland Emmerich's Appalling Stonewall", Rich Juzwiak wrote that the film is "formally inconsistent" and "teaches you about as much about being gay as the Aristocats taught you about being an aristocrat."[16] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, while Emmerich "has made a movie even less historically accurate than 10,000 BC", the most fatal problem of the film is that it "embrace[s] every wrong cliche", which "in the desperate lack of nuance afflict[s] nearly every performance."[17] Maya Stanton wrote in Entertainment Weekly, "Roland Emmerich has taken a seminal moment in gay rights history and reduced it to mere background for a coming-of-age story we've seen before ... Emmerich and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz could have focused on real-life participants (the filmmakers have been accused of whitewashing history since the trailer debuted, and deservedly so) or explored any number of themes that would've been more compelling than 'pretty white kid comes out, struggles.' The subject matter deserves better, and so do we."[18]

Stonewall veteran Mark Segal, writing for the PBS NewsHour said,

"Stonewall is uninterested in any history that doesn’t revolve around its white, male, stereotypically attractive protagonist. It almost entirely leaves out the women who participated in the riots and helped create the Gay Liberation Front, which included youth, trans people, lesbian separatists and people from all other parts of the spectrum of our community."[19]

Speaking to The Guardian, Stonewall historian David Carter called the film "a very lame and inaccurate portrayal."[20] Another Stonewall veteran Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt also denounced the film's lack of accuracy in terms of the characters' choices, its production design, etc., while acknowledging "the street kids being the main engine of things" and the extent to which the police were violent against homosexuals to be accurate.[20]

Controversy[edit]

Prior to release, the promotional trailer was criticized by many for its lack of representation of minorities, who were prominently involved in the historical event, in particular people of color, drag queens, butch lesbians and trans women.[21][22][23][24] Emmerich responded to the controversy, saying, "The film is racially and sexually far more diverse than some people appear to think."[25]

Irvine, who plays the lead role in the film, denied that key historical figures have been omitted, or whitewashed. "To anyone with concerns about the diversity of the #StonewallMovie, I saw the movie for the 1st time last week and can assure you all that it represents almost every race and division of society that was so fundamental to one of the most noteworthy civil rights movements in living history,” Irvine wrote on his Instagram account. “Marsha P. Johnson is a major part of the movie, and although 1st hand accounts of who threw the 1st brick in the riots vary wildly, it is a fictional black transvestite character, played by the very talented Vladimir Alexis, who pulls out the 1st brick in the riot scene,” he continued.[26]

Responding to the criticism the film itself received, Emmerich said of his casting choice: "I didn't make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people... As a director you have to put yourself in your movies, and I'm white and gay."[27]

Later in 2015, those who protested the film were listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[28]

In 2016, Emmerich blamed the film's failure on "one voice on the internet who saw a trailer and said, this is whitewashing Stonewall. Stonewall was a white event, let’s be honest. But nobody wanted to hear that any more."[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AMC Theatres: Stonewall". AMC Theatres. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  2. ^ Stonewall at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "Roland Emmerich May Make Stonewall Film". EmpireOnline.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  4. ^ John R. Kennedy (31 March 2014). "Roland Emmerich to direct Stonewall in Montreal". Global News. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  5. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. "Jeremy Irvine Stars In Roland Emmerich's Stonewall, Ground Zero For Gay Rights". Deadline. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  6. ^ The Deadline Team. "Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ron Perlman & Joey King Join Roland Emmerich's Stonewall". Deadline. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Roland Emmerich's STONEWALL Movie Begins Production". Collider. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  8. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "Roland Emmerich Discusses His Gay-Rights Drama Stonewall and Debuts the Exclusive Poster". Vulture. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (March 25, 2015). "Roland Emmerich's Stonewall Acquired By Roadside Attractions". Deadline. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (July 21, 2015). "Stonewall Riots Movie Set for Sept. 25 Release". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  11. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Box Office: 'Hotel Transylvania 2' Sets September Record With $47.5M; 'Intern' Solid No. 2". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "Stonewall (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  13. ^ "Stonewall Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Lawson, Richard (September 22, 2015). "Stonewall Is Terribly Offensive, and Offensively Terrible". Vanity Fair.
  15. ^ Holden, Stephen (24 September 2015). "Review: 'Stonewall' Doesn't Distinguish Between Facts and Fiction". New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  16. ^ Juzwiak, Rich (September 22, 2015). "There Aren't Enough Bricks in the World to Throw at Roland Emmerich's Appalling Stonewall". Gawker. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  17. ^ Phillips, Michael (September 24, 2015). "'Stonewall' review: Stereotypes spoil story of gay activism". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Stanton, Maya (September 28, 2015). "'Stonewall': EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  19. ^ Segal, Mark (September 23, 2015). "I was at the Stonewall riots. The movie 'Stonewall' gets everything wrong". PBS NewsHour.
  20. ^ a b Smith, Nigel M; et al. (September 25, 2015). "Gay rights activists give their verdict on Stonewall: 'This film is no credit to the history it purports to portray'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  21. ^ Siede, Caroline. "The trailer for Roland Emmerich's Stonewall both documents and rewrites history". AV Club. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  22. ^ Jusino, Teresa. "First Trailer for Stonewall Shows More Diverse View of Historic Riots". The Mary Sue. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  23. ^ O'Keefe, Kevin. "Watch the Controversial Trailer for the Gay Rights Movie Stonewall". Mic. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  24. ^ Mehta, Maitri. "The First Stonewall Trailer is Under Fire for "Whitewashing" the Historic Gay Rights Riots". Bustle. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  25. ^ Jones, Emma (September 24, 2015). "Roland Emmerich defends 'personal' Stonewall movie". BBC. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  26. ^ "Jeremy Irvine Responds to 'Stonewall' Movie Boycott Threats. Las Vegas Blog". Las Vegas Nv Blog. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  27. ^ Keating, Shannon (September 23, 2015). "Director Roland Emmerich Discusses "Stonewall" Controversy". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  28. ^ Advocate.com Editors. "Person of the Year: The Finalists". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  29. ^ Roland Emmerich: ‘Stonewall Was A White Event, Let’s Be Honest’

External links[edit]