A well-intentioned, albeit oblique, tale of two Navy fighter pilots who find themselves in the midst of a forbidden relationship during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, throwing their lives and careers into disarray.
Directed by DMW Greer with a screenplay by Helene Kvale. (JLH: 3.5/5)
Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. Not yet seen by Rich.
Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
DMW Greer’s directorial debut centers on the close friendship between Lieutenants Daniel Lynch (Trent Ford) and Will Stephensen (Morgan Spector) during the time when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was implemented. Set in the 1990s, the two become the focus of an NCIS investigation after Will’s night vision blindness causes them to crash the plane and wash up on shore. Vowing to be buddies for life, Dan takes the blame for the crash, fearing it would cost Will his wings if discovered.
Although both men are seemingly straight, the many smoldering glances Dan trades with new pilot and newly married Matthew Blackwood (Rob Mayes) in their shared barracks suggests differently. Their attraction for each other comes to fruition during a very touristy, cheesy interlude on top of a building near the Empire State Building; the dialogue almost cringe-worthy.
The melodrama unfolds when the investigation shifts from the plane to a gay witch-hunt after a woman picks the pilots up and takes them to a gay bar, leading to dancing, drunkenness, and some kind of sexual montage with Dan, Matt, and the two women.
Due to amateurish editing and continuity issues, only later does it reveal that there was a sexual encounter that night and from there, everything goes downhill for the lead characters. The second half of the film turns on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the fact that these two men are in love is a career ender.
Burning Blue was unclear as to where it was headed or what was going on throughout the entire course of the film. The script seemed like it was written for an after school special, hardly a feat for the LGBT community, which strives to be portrayed in a not-so-stereotypical way.
The message Greer was trying to get across, that of intolerance and difficulties homosexuals face in the military, came across clearly but his effort was not well executed. The lackluster chemistry between Dan and Matt was difficult to sit through, with awkward kissing scenes and glances that did not convey any emotion, let alone sexual longing.
Had this movie been released in the 90s, it may have had more of an impact, but in the year 2014, with so many dynamic gay characters on both television and film, Burning Blue seems outdated and out of place. This movie is referred to as Top Gun meets Brokeback Mountain but that would be a generous compliment.
Bottom Photo: Rob Mayes (left) with Trent Ford as lovers Matt and Dan during their New York City escapade (Photo Credit: Lionsgate).
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (7/2/14)
Q: Does Burning Blue pass the Bechdel Test?
No. Burning Blue is a movie about relationships between men: fathers and sons, male camaraderie and military bonding, and homosexual attraction, love and longing. There are very few women in Burning Blue, they are totally on the periphery, and they have no opportunities to talk to one another. (jlh)