by Troy Tieuel
*”Blackbird” is a moving commentary about a young African-American man that is coming to grips with his alternate sexual identity. Plagued with dreams that cause him much distress, Randy Rousseau, the main character played magnificently by newcomer Julian Walker, eventually confesses to not wanting the “sinful urges,” but does nothing to resist the negative influences that tempt him inside the film’s plot.
The film is marketed as being about a young man who has “no choice in being” what he is. Quite the contrary, Randy Rousseau actually seeks out more homosexual situations, joining the cast of a movie where he is to play a character that has an homosexual rape scene, going to “the Hilltop” a secret meeting spot for those seeking homosexual sex similar to an ‘inspiration point,’ and even joining with his high school friends to re-write a homosexual version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Although cleverly written by novelist Rikki Beadle Blair, and exquisitely shot utilizing the beauty of Mississippi’s Hattiesburg County as a backdrop, the emotional storyline fails to show any real resistance towards a homosexual lifestyle nor any real support to the latter from those around him, save the bitter rejection from the mother, played by Academy Award winner, Mo’Nique, and the local preacher played by Terrell Tilford. “It’s provocative. It can be agitating, but what I see it as, it’s just pure truth,” said Tilford at the April 18th screening of the film in Culver City, California. “It’s just pure, honest love. And aren’t those things at the same time like God and everything else, for me, aren’t they still complex?”
Characters in this story either totally accept the homosexual lifestyle, supporting alternate lifestyle decisions, or they dislike Randy Rousseau’s choice to live as an open homosexual. No character is shown to willingly accept Randy Rousseau as he is, without some obvious ulterior motive for or against homosexuality. This lack of indifference causes this film to become ripe with propaganda messages that promotes the homosexual agenda currently being debated within the church, government and other parts of our society.
“At the very least, I’d like to see conversations starting in families, in churches,” said Blair. “I’d like to see a few choir directors go, ‘Me.’”
Character actor Isaiah Washington lends not only his star power to the cast, but his finances towards pushing this film, signing on as one of its producers. Washington’s stance on homosexuality was publicized in 2007, after he was fired from the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” for using homophobic slurs against co-star T.R. Knight. Since then, he had been asked to return to the show to reprise his role as Dr. Preston Burke for a one episode stand next month in May, 2015 ironically titled “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Washington’s character is arguably the one character in the movie who is not homosexual, or hates homosexuality and seems to accept his son’s choices with neutrality and unconditional love of a father to a son, until he admits to liking a homosexual encounter that he had earlier in his life.
“I’m from Texas,” said Washington, “and I saw allot of things in the proverbial black church that I didn’t think appropriate. As a child I was extremely sensitive and I really believed things where black and white. I believed if you told me, as my father did, I am going to pick you up, I would sit on that porch, all day. So this thing called ‘hypocrisy’ is not wasted on me.”
On the upside in this film, the actors involved carry the film where the plot changes might confuse some viewers. A magnificent performance from Mo’Nique brings to life mental disorders and how they can affect the family structure. She shows, through her emotional performance, how versatile she really is. Monique transforms from flawed mental case, wearing disheveled clothing, into a strong mother through the reuniting of her family, standing tall and showing her full beauty.
As we alluded to earlier in this piece, first time actor Julian Walker plays the main character, Randy Rousseau. Walker brings to life an emotional youth that is as impressionable as he is confused about his choices. Although in the movie his choices are questionable, the talent of this local Mississippi area actor is as plain as the gleam off the Pearl River. Everybody knows a ‘Randy Rousseau,’ or someone struggling with the moralities of being homosexual. That fact is the main reason this film works.
As expected, veteran actor Isaiah Washington resurrects the dead beat dad and redeems himself from a checkered past both on and off the screen. If there was ever an apology for his past, this movie is it. Washington’s character, Lance Rousseau, is feeling, humble and shows a high level of respect and reverence for homosexuality. His character supports his son, as any father would support a son with a problem that he was struggling with. In the movie, Lance is, in fact, not a dead beat dad, but a man that is dealing with issues that are beyond his abilities to fix.
Up and coming actor Kevin Allesee, plays Marshall MacNeil, young Randy’s predator-like boyfriend. The actions of MacNeil in this film bring to light the hyper sexual nature in our society in general and how men are taught to ‘hunt and capture’ women in vulgar and barbaric ways. Seeing this interaction between the mature college student, preying on the innocent and impressionable high-school student brings to light what goes on in our heterosexual community daily and is accepted as normal and good.
In the movie, Allesee‘s character seeks to bring Randy into the homosexual community first via flirty innuendo filled commentary, then morality based stories of his life, and finally through the shock therapy of showing him the other homosexuals in the community engaging in raunchy sexual acts. This parallels the barbaric ways that predators approach the youth and influence them into negative actions first with chatty jokes to befriend them, then with stories that uplift the concepts that are the predator’s end goals, and finally by showing the youth the very actions that the predator is interested in engaging in. Once the predator sees that the youth has accepted or even enjoyed their interactions, he moves in to attack with the very actions that he has primed the youth with.
This negative approach to creating a relationship is displayed as good and wholesome in this film. It is possible that the writers and producers of this film intended for it to be a pro-homosexual movie, but one question remains unanswered. Why was the main character steadily speaking against being homosexual?
This issue is overshadowed by the acting talent on display in this film outside the main stars. The supporting characters played by neophyte actress Nikki Jane, Sean P. Diddy Combs’ ‘Making the Band 3’s D-Woods, Torrey Laamar and Gary LeRoi Gray who plays one of Randy’s best friends who has accepted his homosexual nature bring extended life to this film.
“That’s what’s great about movies like this,” said Grey, “it can change something as powerful as the mind.”
This movie’s real unsung star is the amazing locations of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Scenes filmed next to the Pearl River and down long stretches of winding roads allude to the natural beauty contained in the southern parts of our nation. Wooded scenes, colonial architecture and natural skylines paint a picture of a quiet community that is filled with life.
“Blackbird” will be released nationwide this Friday, April 24, 2015. For more information about the movie, go to http://www.blackbirdthemovie.com/ or search the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter hashtag #WEAREBLACKBIRD.