We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Torch Song Trilogy" opens with a closeup of Arnold, the hero, looking his very worst. He's backstage at the drag club where he works as a female impersonator, and he's halfway into his makeup. You can see every facial flaw of the male face underneath and the female face he's applying to the surface. Cigarette smoke drifts through the shot. You can almost smell the cold cream. He's talking about his life as a homosexual, and there are moments when his voice catches with emotion.
We're touched that he's revealing himself so honestly. But then, of course, he breaks the spell with a throwaway one-liner.
He breaks a lot of spells that way. This is a man who has used sarcasm and self-satire to build a wall around himself. One of the earliest scenes in the movie is a flashback to childhood when his mother surprises him on the floor of her closet where he is playing dressup with her high heels and her makeup. It is obvious that dressing like a woman is important to him, but later he turns that part of himself into a parody, as a drag queen who laughs first so that the joke is never on him.
"Torch Song Trilogy" is basically a movie about a man who slowly becomes more comfortable with himself. As written and performed by Harvey Fierstein as a long-running stage hit, it was seen as a sort of nostalgic visit to the problems that gays had in the years before the horror of AIDS. The movie has more or less the same focus, but because it's a movie, it becomes more intimate and intense. It's about a man who was born gay and has known about himself from an early age and has accepted his homosexuality more easily than certain other facets of himself - such as fear of loneliness, insecurity about his appearance and paralyzing shyness. Homosexuality is not his problem - it is the arena for his problems.