×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Blue Citrus Hearts

Coming of age and coming out are awkward, anguished and wildly unpredictable in Morgan Jon Fox's poignant video tone poem. As the characters drift in and out of schoolrooms and relationships, color and focus are manipulated -- sometimes sharp, clear, sometimes one color, hard to decipher -- to mirror the hero's confusions and mood-swings.

With:
With: Joshua Peter Laurenzi, Paul Foster, Emily Fry, Lee Ann Roberts, Mark Pergolizzi, Alex Booth.

Coming of age and coming out are awkward, anguished and wildly unpredictable in Morgan Jon Fox’s poignant video tone poem “Blue Citrus Hearts.” As the characters drift in and out of schoolrooms and relationships, color and focus are manipulated — sometimes sharp, clear, sometimes one color, hard to decipher — to mirror the hero’s confusions and mood-swings. Thus, Fox and his shoestring Memphis film cooperative succeed in capturing the intensity of teen angst where many Hollywood films fail. Already an underground hit on gay fest circuit and out on video and DVD, “Hearts'” non-gender-specific appeal should easily graduate into cable sales.

Sam (Joshua Peter Laurenzi) comes from a typically dysfunctional nuclear family, where shaved-head dad’s (Mark Pergolizzi) concept of parenting consists of yelling and belittlement, mom (Le Ann Roberts) never wants to rock the boat, and everyone around the dinner table gets off on dissing Sam. The only one to understand him is his grandmother, who slips him a card from a gay bar and implies that his father previously repressed his humanity in an effort to repress his homosexuality.

Sam has a girlfriend, Arielle (Alex Booth), but her appeal has started to wilt in the heat of his attraction to best friend Julien (Paul Foster), who lives in rare harmony with his cool single-parent mom (a highly personable Emily Fry).

Fox and his actors imbue the kids’ largely improvised scenes with amazing pathos, the performers’ nervous gestures and silences communicating as much as their conversations. Wandering around Memphis coffee houses or trading confidences in secret hideouts Sam and Julien bond as friends and try to find their psychological bearings, while Arielle tries to figure out what has gone wrong between Sam and her.

“Hearts” was partly filmed at White Station High School with actual students and teachers. Pic’s lanky young non-pro actors fit right in. Pic conveys the sense of what it is like to go to school with the eerie precision of a documentary — students and staff alike behave with an off-handedness that careful reconstruction could never achieve.

Plus, Fox subscribes to no romantic ideas of essential homosexual “difference.” His hero’s gayness does not alienate him from his friends and send him spinning off from everyone who wants to get close to him: His confusion does.

Throughout the film, fragments of handwritten poetry appear in white on the screen (presumably from the journal Sam is always scribbling in) and, in one key scene, Sam hands Julien his writing as a declaration of love. But “Heart” eschews any lightbulb-over-the-head simplicity whereby the “discovery” of sexual identity resolves the problems of adolescence, or where queerness somehow bestows personality.

The hand-held camera often comes a little too close for comfort in the experimental lensing by Fox and Suzie Cyanide. Subtle score by indie rock band Loggia never overwhelms.

Blue Citrus Hearts

Production: A Memphis Digital Arts Co-Operative/Sawed-Off Collaboratory production. Produced by Morgan Jon Fox. Co-producers, Mark Jones, Ben Peacock, Jacque Patterson, J.P. Laurenzi. Directed, written, edited by Morgan Jon Fox.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Fox, Suzie Cyanide; sound, Fox, Cyanide. Reviewed on videocassette at NewFest, New York, June 11, 2004. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Joshua Peter Laurenzi, Paul Foster, Emily Fry, Lee Ann Roberts, Mark Pergolizzi, Alex Booth.

More Film

  • 'Gemini Man' First Trailer Drops With

    Will Smith Faces Off Against Himself in Ang Lee's 'Gemini Man' Trailer

    Will Smith battles a recognizable antagonist in the official trailer for Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” — himself. The actor plays an elite assassin in the sci-fi drama. Things get tricky when he finds out the man he’s assigned to track down is a younger version of himself who can predict his every move. “He knew [...]

  • Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japan-Set

    Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japanese Film 'Family Romance'

    London-based sales house Film Constellation has boarded Oscar-winning director Werner Herzog’s Japanese-language narrative film “Family Romance,” which will have its world premiere in the special screenings section at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Herzog, the movie was shot last spring and summer in Tokyo and Aomori, Japan, with non-professional actors (Yuichi Ishii, [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Box Office: Can It

    'Avengers: Endgame' Expected to Shatter Box Office Records

    “Avengers: Endgame” has its sights set on world domination. Disney and Marvel’s upcoming superhero epic should light the box office on fire when it launches this weekend, with the hopes of setting domestic, international, and global records. In North America alone, “Avengers: Endgame” is expected to earn between $250 million and $268 million in its [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million on [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' Compensation Jumps 48% to $36.1 Million

    Netflix chief Reed Hastings is being handsomely rewarded for calling the shots at the streaming giant. His compensation package, which is largely in the form of stock options, climbed 48% in 2018 to $36.1 million. That’s up from $24.4 million in the previous year. Hastings’ salary is a relatively modest $700,000, but his stock options [...]

  • Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction

    Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction Rebellion Climate-Change Satire (EXCLUSIVE)

    Emma Thompson will play a climate-change activist in “Extinction,” a timely satirical short film that will include footage of the Extinction Rebellion group’s ongoing wave of action in London. Two-time Oscar winner Thompson has herself been involved in the high-profile London-based protests. She addressed crowds over the weekend from Extinction Rebellion’s signature pink boat, which [...]

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content