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Poster Boy

Poster Boy is one of those surprisingly well-acted little indies that you will stumble across and say, ''Why haven't I heard of this?''


The film examines the ugliness of politics and how, in this case, homophobia can affect an election. Jack Kray (Michael Lerner) is a conservative U.S. Senator from the Deep South with a dark secret in his family--his son Henry (Matt Newton) is gay. Meanwhile, Henry is going about his business, entering a new college and essentially coming out and accepting his sexuality. The senator's alcoholic/shopaholic wife, Eunice (Karen Allen), is a comical, all-knowing Southern belle who sends a young Republican to spy on her son, but Skip (Ian Reed Kesler) takes his job a bit too seriously and goes too far undercover. As dad's political aspirations get higher, Henry is becoming more comfortable with his sexuality. Of course, when the parents come to visit, the Civil War gets revived and relived.


The actors fit nicely into their varied roles, as ugly or sympathetic, cruel or friendly, deceitful or honest as they may be. Poster Boy is told in a rather disconcerting confessional style, mostly through Henry, and the talky narrative can often be distracting. But Newton is subtle, sexy and low-key. Lerner as the evil Senator Kray is perhaps too mean-spirited and over the top, but he's credible. Allen is also sort of one note, but makes her tough-talking, chain-smoking distant mother almost sympathetic. And as a side player, Jack Noseworthy does well as a liberal campus activist, stuck in a dilemma over whether to pursue a guy he's really attracted to, or whether to blow the whistle and out the son of a homophobic politician.


Director Zak Tucker has molded an astonishing cast for a decent film debut. Even in these supposedly enlightened times, the lives of a politician's family does play into the voter's psyche (big surprise). There are some painfully unnecessary moments, like when Skip, who can't deal with his own self-loathing, screams he hopes Henry catches AIDS and dies. But Poster Boy thankfully doesn"t hit you over the head with its message but rather lets it wash over you.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 1/2 stars.