Co-directed by Michael McDonough & Joshua Lewindon, ‘Kingdom’ is a 17:26 minutes long, poignant film on an issue that desperately needs addressing. Centring on Jack, played by Harry Winchester, the film is a telling of his life and the crossroads to which he is coerced into due to conflicts between his faith, sexuality and family.
The film opens to the compelling music of Alex Mills. It is so subtle, that it almost plays as an extension to the plot, slowly pulling you in, preparing you for the onslaught of drama and tragedy. But, it’s done with such singular nuance, that it never comes in the way of the storytelling, instead only enhances it. The protagonist here remains Jack. His role in the Church, his family and most importantly the one with Matthew (Blair Robertson) forms the crux of the story. Raffa Ramos’s camera offers spectacular close-ups, a tad too many of them, even. It’s ingenious because it instantly makes you aware of Jack’s predicament, up close. The shots almost seem like an intrusion, much like the topic discussed here: that of homosexuality.
Jack’s homosexual relationship with Matthew is outed by his sister Susie (Lauren-Nicole Mayes) and all hell breaks loose. The family is torn with the revelation but fails to see how it must break Jack as well. The dialogues between the mother and son are particularly moving. Winchester is convincing, the angst, the pain, the conflicting emotions and confusion are so well essayed by him that it’s hard to not feel involved.
Considering the length of the film, it doesn’t explore the religious background or the aftermath of such revelations in tight-knit communities. It would perhaps make for a compelling feature-length, later. The film’s brilliance, however, shines through in the acting of the actors involved. The chemistry between Matthew and Jack, the inner dynamics of familial relations and the involvement of the Church members are thoroughly explored, stemming from a well-written script by Ben Woodhall.
The film is poignant considering the times we are living in. Add to that, it’s a true story making it all the more important to be heard, to be seen and hopefully open doors to new conversations that bring about resolute changes for the LGBTQ community. Without revealing much, the decision that Jack is asked to take, the choices he is confronted with to make are onuses that none should have to bear. To imagine the life of a boy whose singular fault is not complying to the societal norms of sexuality is so tragically unjust that it’s beyond words…
‘Kingdom’ offers a piece of Jack’s tragedy, but really is a mere glimpse to the world that the LGBTQ community inhabits in.
Watch Kingdom Short Film