Premiering two days ago at the Maryland Film Festival, and set to screen soon at BAM Cinema Fest, is director Stephen Cone‘s fascinating new film Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party. Early audience reactions are ★★★★★ across the board, with viewers praising Cone’s masterful skill in his examination of the the enormously complex dynamics and combustible combination of faith, sex, youth, love, and self discovery. The Film Stage writes: “Cone’s work shows he’s rather skilled as a writer of ensembles, finding balance, harmony, and discord with an ear and (just as importantly) eye that bring tension and drama to the surface without breaking into full-blown melodramatics.”
The synopsis reads: “Two teenage boys, preacher’s kid Henry Gamble (Cole Doman) and his friend Gabe (Joe Keery), have a sleepover the night before Henry’s seventeenth birthday pool party. Typical teenage boy chat quickly turns sexual, and it’s silently implied that Henry, on a search for identity, has a crush on Gabe. As dawn arrives on the day of the party, Henry’s mom Kat (Elizabeth Laidlaw) wakes in a state of limbo, middle-aged, with a secret. A little while later, Pastor Bob (Pat Healy, CHEAP THRILLS) is making breakfast, and they are joined by Henry’s 19-year-old sister Autumn (Nina Ganet), home from college for the party. Later that afternoon, as guests arrive – both from the church, as well as Henry’s own “secular” friends – and day turns to night, Henry carefully navigate the religious strictures and sexual secrets of his community, as do the adults and teenagers of the party, all struggling to tread the public and private, and their longing, despite themselves and their faith, for earthly love.”
The Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth also adds: “Cone has already made himself one to watch thanks to the success of his award-winning film The Wise Kids, so Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party is one to keep on your radar.” Be sure to follow Stephen Cone on Twitter, and follow Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party on Facebook. With one look at this trailer, this film is right at the top of my Can’t Wait List!