NOTE: This review for “A Very Natural Thing” was written for and published on my former Blogger.com site, using my old rating scale. I have kept this review as originally published, with a few minor tweaks.
I cannot recall how “A Very Natural Thing” made it into my collection other than being on a list of gay-themed movies to watch – but it deserves an honorable mention on everyone’s list. Yes, it is a dated film – it was made in 1973, but the story is timeless and still poignant today. It’s a low budget style film, with actors who did not continue on to mainstream movies. It’s an entirely different style compared to the films being made today – the story is slower, not fast paced like what we expect; the twists in the plot are not shocking, but subtle and realistic; it doesn’t rely on the drama or even comedy to entertain. Yet, that is all perfectly fine and they aren’t missed. Instead, with “A Very Natural Thing” we get a real, very honest view on being gay and finding love in a time when we were just developing our community’s voice. In fact, this was filmed only a few years after Stonewall!
The story of “A Very Natural Thing” is a simple romantic one, yet one most of us can relate to today. Our leading male, David (Robert McLane), has recently come out after personal struggles with religion (he was a monk briefly). While out at a bar in NYC, he meets Mark (Curt Gareth) and sparks fly. As things tend to happen, they end up going home and sleeping together. What starts as a one-night stand, beautifully develops into a relationship to the point they move in together. Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go awry as each other’s views on commitment differs. David views their relationship as a marriage, but Mark wants more sexual adventure. David tries to work through this conundrum and save the relationship, but unfortunately things do not work out and they separate, leaving David to wonder if his heart will even mend. David’s life moves on as he accepts his place in the quickly changing society. While at a gay pride event, David meets an attractive young man, Jason (Bo White). They leave the march and begin an honest conversation with each therefore realizing that they both want each other. Another romance begins, though Jason is the one who falls hard with David being very reserved. Eventually while spending a weekend together, Jason asks David to move in together. David openly admits his reservations from his relationship with Mark, and instead asks Jason to give him time. Reluctantly, and with obvious love for David, Jason agrees. We wrap up with a slow-motion cinematic moment between the two as they race naked towards the open ocean – beautifully captured and showing honest bonding between two men that is not sexual.
“A Very Natural Thing” is beautifully shot, captivating the essence of films from that era. The one element that I’m at odds with is the real, honest, live interviews filmed during the 1973 “Christopher Street Pride Parade.” There are some towards the beginning of the film which don’t move the story along, feeling a bit jarring and more documentary style than drama. Later on, the storyline itself uses the parade – when David and Jason meet. Yet again, there are interviews and comments made by parade attendees that don’t fit within the story. It partially detracts from the story – yet at the same time those interviews make this film special because they are real and honest remarks, made by real people during a historical pride parade. They show us what the gay world was like before AIDS changed everything. It was during a time when not just gays were proud of their sexuality but everyone, the “hippy”era, so to speak. That alone makes this film worth watching.
I gladly give “A Very Natural Thing” a 7.0/10 rating, which is about on par with IMDB’s score of 6.7/10.