×
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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

  • ‘Mulan’ Star Skips D23 Press Amid

    'Mulan' Star Crystal Yifei Liu Skips D23 Amid International Controversy

    Crystal Yifei Liu, the star of Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan,” skipped the press line and Disney panel at Disney’s D23 expo Saturday in the heat of the #BoycottMulan controversy. Unlike the other portions of the Saturday Disney panel, which featured both stars and directors for the other films presented, the “Mulan” panel was [...]

  • Marvel Stars Want Tom Holland's Spider-Man

    Marvel Stars Want to Keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU

    Marvel fans aren’t the only ones heartbroken that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might not be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. “It really is sad. First off, he’s the greatest Spider-Man to me. He actually has that youthful energy,” Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU, told Variety at D23 on Friday. “He’s been [...]

  • Kit Harington

    'Game of Thrones' Star Kit Harington Joins 'The Eternals'

    Jon Snow is leaving the North. “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington is joining the cast of “The Eternals” as Dane Whitman, also known as the Black Knight, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Saturday on the main stage at D23. Feige also confirmed Gemma Chan’s appearance in the film as Sersi, another member of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content