Stephen Cone! The man recently blew my ass away with The Wise Kids and now he’s done it again with Henry Gamble's Birthday Party. I love films that try and make the story revolve around one day. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a very effective style of filmmaking for HGBP. Cone uses faith and homosexuality heavily within his films which I’m an absolute sucker for.
On the morning of Henry’s 17th birthday, he awakes next to one of his best friends, Gabe. They talk about how much fun they’ll have at Henry’s party later on and how attractive Emily is, who later shows up to the party. We meet Henry’s father who is a pastor, his mother who is clearly battling something big mentally, and his sister who is attending a Christian college but returns for the party. As people show up, there’s confusion on what is allowed at Christian parties, but it’s Henry’s day and he wants to finally share with someone that he is gay.
When the credits started rolling and "Everyone Is Dark" by New Canyons began playing, my whole body began to chill with the hairs on my neck flared out. It’s a brilliant film that uses the 24 hour cycle perfectly. I recognize that I am biased to the sort of storytelling that Stephen Cone specializes in because I grew up going to church/youth groups, so this kind of stuff hits hard. At this point, I’m a big fan of what Stephen Cone has done for cinema and for the folks out there who feel like they can’t be honest about their sexuality.