A Very Natural Thing follows a New York school teacher on a search for love. He dates two very different men as he struggles to define the kind of homosexual he wants to be. Angst free sex is mixed with quiet scenes of grocery shopping, watching TV and walking through Central Park. The message is clear: “Gays. They’re just like us!” It’s often dull but it’s also one of the first happy gay movies!
Want to learn more? Then read my spoiler filled recap.
Act One: Mark
Scene One: Gay Liberation Parade (Now known as the Pride Parade)
RANDOM LESBIAN: Being gay is a very natural thing.
Scene Two: Disco
ALAN (A sassy gay friend): Why are you wearing a dad sweater?
DAVID (Our dorky hero): I used to be a monk. Now I’m a school teacher. I’m still uncomfortable with my sexuality.
MARK (A promiscuous businessman): Cool backstory bro. Let’s bang.
DAVID: Okay. (They do. This film is full of casual nudity.)
Scene Three: Dating montage
(They visit the Central Park Zoo. Ride carousels. Ride bikes. Ride seesaws. Ride a boat. It’s a really long montage. Some shots pay homage 1970’s Love Story.)
DAVID: Kiss me!
MARK: Kissing is so 1950s
DAVID: Say you love me!
MARK: Love means never having to say you’re in love.
DAVID: (Wrestles him to the floor). SAY IT!
MARK: FINE! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!
DAVID: Aww thank you! I’m moving in with you.
Scene Four: Domestic montage
(Another montage. They shop for groceries. Buy KY jelly at the drug store. Dress for work. Watch TV. Have dinner with middle class gay friends. Vito Russo makes a cameo!)
MARK: This movie is boring.
DAVID: I like boring. We’re establishing that gays are just like everybody else.
MARK: We shouldn’t have to be. I want to spice things up.
Scene Five: Fire Island Orgy
(Men lie naked on the floor. It’s like a sexy yoga class. Mark is sampling the wares.)
MARK: Isn’t this great?
DAVID: I’m leaving you.
Act Two: Single Life
Scene Six: Alan’s Apartment
ALAN (A sassy gay friend): You forced a relationship he didn’t want. Now you need to get over him.
DAVID: What? So, you’re my serious gay friend now?
Scene Seven: A Bath House
DAVID: Bath house culture is depressing.
BATH HOUSE GUY: Don’t be judgey. May I give you a blow job?
DAVID: Okay. But I won’t enjoy it.
Act Three: Jason
Scene Eight: Gay Liberation Parade (Now known as the Pride Parade)
DAVID: Parades aren’t important.
JASON (A warm single dad): Parades are important.
DAVID: I like how you challenge the way I think.
JASON: I like how we look almost exactly alike. Let’s date.
Scene Nine: Jason’s balcony
EX-WIFE: Let’s get back together. Let’s take our child on a trip.
JASON: Sorry. I’m going to the beach with my new boyfriend. He really listens to me. You’d like him.
EX-WIFE: You heartless bastard. I’m so happy for you. (Leaves.)
Scene Ten: Jason’s living room
JASON: Say you love me.
DAVID: I love you.
JASON: Let’s move in together and become boring domestic gays.
DAVID: Actually no. Let’s take things slow. I’ve learned from my mistakes and grown as a character.
JASON: Whatever. It’s naked time!
(They run naked down the beach in slow motion.)
JASON: We really do look alike.
DAVID: I guess nudity is the most natural thing of all.
“I wanted to say that same-sex relationships are no more problematic but no easier than any other human relationships. They are in many ways the same and in several ways different from heterosexual relationships but in themselves are no less possible or worthwhile.” ~ Christopher Larkin. The Celluloid Closet.
Boy meets boy. Boy loses boy. Boy finds another boy. Nobody dies.
The film was mundane enough to be dismissed by the New York Times as “standard drama,” though it was that very mundanity that made the film revolutionary in 1974. Director Christopher Larken and screenwriter Joseph Coencas never worked on another film. Mark and Jason’s actors had already made a film together: the heterosexual sex farce Blue Summer. Afterwards Mark’s actor became a teacher while Jason’s focused on theater with the occasional film role.
Hidden Gems for Pride
My first Avocado review post went up on June 24, 2018. This is my 39th. I want to thank @howtogetawaywithmordor for the initial invitation and all of you for reading and commenting. If you’ve already seen the “best” gay films you might want to look up some of these hidden gems.
Full Length Films: A Little Lust (2015), Like It Is (1998), On the Other Hand, Death (2008), Patrick, Age 1.5 (2008), Victim (1961), Winter Kept Us Warm (1965), Zero Patience (1993).
Short Films: I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone (2010), Tonight It’s You (2016), Xavier (2016).
So Bad It’s Good?: Gone But Not Forgotten (2003), Issues 101 (2002), Judas Kiss (2011), Kiss the Bride (2007), Life Like (2019), You Should Meet My Son 2! (2018).
Next time we’ll meet a sexy dolphin in the bizarre 1988 thriller The Fruit Machine. For more reviews of LGBT+ media click here.
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