TIFF 15 Review: Stonewall (2015) ★★★★★

" STONEWALL " Photo by Philippe Bosse
Photo by Philippe Bosse

There are only a few movies that can help an actor raise his profile as a risk-taker, brave and courageous performer when it comes to play a character many others would refuse even to get close. But that’s not always enough if the film afterwards fades into darkness and disappears without even going down the history books. What Rolland Emmerich does in STONEWALL is something unheard of, brave, bold and totally unexpected experience you simply were not aware of. And that is what I call a film that will create hubbub for many reasons, and one of them is brilliant performance by everyone involved, especially Jeremy Irvine and Jonny Beauchamp as Ray/Ramona. And if you afterwards disregard this film and forget about it, then I don’t know how else the filmmaker can convince you in his clear attempt to show what filmmaking, great performance and true dedication mean when it comes to telling a story the way it’s been told in STONEWALL.

Stonewall follows Danny, a young man’s political awakening during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots. When the movie begins, we find Danny in New York, when he walks into a local bar and meets Queen Tooey (Richard Jutras). Already aware of being gay, Danny tries to find his place under the sun in The Big Apple with other fellows who share the same vision of life. Even though by that time you know a little about his past, we shortly find out the reason our hero abandons his family.

As the film progresses, we find Danny with new friends, and one of them is Ray/Ramona (Jonny Beauchamp) whose feelings start growing towards the young handsome man. But the life Jonny encountered is not what he expected as police start pushing hard on homosexuals with non-stop arrests, which mark the beginning of Stonewall Riots and an amazing journey for the viewer who simply needs to fasten his seatbelt and enjoy the high-speed ride with absolutely breathtaking performances, incredibly well-developed story and experience not every movie is capable to deliver.

In conclusion, STONEWALL is a movie which must be seen by anyone who believes in brilliance. From the beginning to the end you see nothing but great theatrical execution by all means. It will shock you, stun and knock you out with everything you’re about to see in Emmerich’s film while Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jonny Beauchamp and many others deliver a career defining performance that will go down in history as one of the best, if not the best one.

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