Parents' Guide to

A Wake

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Solid indie drama has violence, cursing, drugs.

Movie NR 2019 97 minutes
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This is a solid indie drama that shows what many young gay teens growing up in strict Christian households and communities have experienced and might continue to experience. In A Wake, the kinds of homophobia that Mitchel faced in his daily life were all-encompassing and pervasive. With little room for tolerance within the home and outside the home (at school, in the streets), Mitchel had very little free space to be himself. The film also does well not to completely demonize Mitchel's devoutly Christian family, either. The father is given some humanity in his pain and confusion. The grandmother is diplomatic and calmly understanding of each position. And the little sister, of course, is given space to be young and naive.

There are a few missteps, however. Mason's initial interest in psychics and a Ouija board is understandable but also loses its purpose halfway through once Jameson makes it clear he's not into it. Further, while Jameson is presented as an incredibly nice, well-mannered, and decent young Black man, it's hard to believe that he wouldn't have the street smarts or awareness not to so brazenly out himself in the midst of an incredibly hateful family. He would've known from Mitchel that his family was incredibly intolerant of homosexuality and even Black people, so it was odd to see Jameson so comfortably speak about his love for Mitchel in front of his parents and pastor, all of whom explicitly believe that being gay is a sin and will end with your soul burning in hell forever.

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