Stonewall (1995)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Romance


Stonewall (1995) Poster

A group of homosexual people try to live with dignity and self-respect while events build to the opening battle in the major gay rights movement.


7/10
1,475

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26 September 1998 | BookWorm-2
7
| The spirit is right; the details are wrong
I have a great deal of admiration for this engaging effort to explain the roots of the modern gay rights movement, produced on a shoe-string by a director with an admirable sense of style, pacing, and resourcefulness. Though filtered through a distinctly British class-consciousness, it does a highly respectable job of catching the main trends in gay America from my not-quite-misspent youth.

Furthermore, it is candidly presented as a subjective, fictional account, mooting complaints like "the bus is too old," "no New York apartment is that big" and "the Stonewall bar never looked that clean."

Nonetheless, one small detail and one large item are egregiously wrong. The detail is the rather elementary fact that the Stonewall was never licensed; it was a "private" mob-run club. It was raided not because all cops are homophobes but because, in the absence of official licensing, gay bars were, in every sense, illegal. The scenes where Stonewall employees display great care about the liquor laws are ridiculous, since the bar operated outside the law.

The larger item is the failure to capture the sense of exhilaration that swept throught the country in 1969. This was the year men walked on the moon, the year of Woodstock, the year an X-rated gay-themed film ("Midnight Cowboy") won the "Best Picture" Oscar, and (biggest miracle of all to us New Yorkers) the year the Mets, long "lovable losers," won the World Series. Anything was possible, and gay people joined the party with enthusiasm.

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