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Film Review

March 29, 2001

Mathis Winkler

When in "Big Eden," things tend to be, well, utopian.

It's definitely true in the case of New York artist Henry Hart (Arye

Gross), who returns to his hometown of Big Eden, Mont., to care for his

dying grandfather.

Surrounded by pristine nature and town folks whose enlightened views

on homosexuality would put West Hollywood residents to shame, Big Eden's

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gay lost son seems to struggle more with his sexuality than his

lumberjack shirt and cowboy hat-wearing neighbors do.

Torn between a futile love for his high school buddy and shy advances

from the town's grocer, Hart is unable to come out to his omniscient

grandfather, who joins his fellow Big Edeners in bemoaning his grandson's

fear of revealing himself.

But breaking the usual "gays face hostile straight environment" mold

was the intention of Tom Bezucha, who wrote and directed the film.

Big Eden is "sort of the least likely place this story could actually

unfold in real life," Bezucha said, adding that he'd tried to show that

finding love is tough no matter how supportive an environment you live

in.

Incidentally, several extras became uncomfortable during a dance scene

involving a kiss between Hart and another man. A local woman hired to

walk actors' dogs quit after finding out about the film's plot.

Hey, it's the real world after all.

* "Big Eden" will screen 4 p.m. Friday at Edwards Island 7 Cinemas.

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