Dave (Stephen Shane Martin) has every reason to be upset. His wife left him and came out as a lesbian. Then, he has to go stay with his crazy Aunt Patty who, upon arrival, pretends to be dead in bed, complete with a dead rat for smell. Oh but then the real trouble begins. Poor Dave is at a crossroads both in a situational sense and spiritually as well. Displaced by a “failed” marriage, he takes a job as a counselor at a Christian college. One of the nefarious plans, headed by the nasty Gordon Woodman (Tom Nowicki) is to infiltrate the local LGBTQ+ support group and take them down from the inside. At a personal and very spiritual moment, David has to grapple with his own position on the matter as a straight Christian male and as one who has been affected by self-discovery.
At the End of the Day is a VERY well-meaning rom-com about conversion therapy that has most everything going for it. It has heart. It has the right intention, it’s even a balanced and compassionate view of both sides of the debate. Still, this behemoth of a film, clocking in at a girthy 1hr 58 minutes, could have easily been done in a trim 80 with better pacing and editing.
“…to grapple with his own position on the matter as a straight Christian male and as one who has been affected by self-discovery.”
Dave begins attending meetings for the local support group of LGBTQ+ folks of the community. They naturally assume he is a gay dude because that is what he looks like. Okay, one point deducted from the inclusion team for stereotyping. He begins to sew dissent by spreading gossip. This doesn’t work because this tight-knit clan keeps it real and honest with respect and love. Okay, so they get the point back. As the film progresses, Dave begins to differentiate between prejudice and love, circumstance and human imperfection.
As his superior, Professor Woodman continues to egg him on Dave begins to feel a crisis of conscience. Learning the stories of these dejected youth and those who love them, he begins to realize a new level of Christian compassion. But then, how will he come out as a straight Christian male to his friends? How will he stop his boss from stealing the vacant building across the street from the group that has plans to convert it into a shelter for the LGBTQ+ youth?
“…credited for not shying away from two very conflicting points of view on a heated debate…and for showing empathy…”
Writer-director Kevin O’Brien has a lot to say here. He needs to be credited for not shying away from two very conflicting points of view on a heated debate. He also needs to be credited for showing empathy. But for God’s sake can someone talk to him about pacing? This movie could have been delivered with such eloquence, at a much faster clip, and been the next G.B.F. Really. The writing is that good. Yet each scene is played at march tempo when some could have used two-step or faster.
The performances are, across the board acceptable with a few shimmering standouts, Aunt Patty included. As far as the technical specs, set decoration needs to be given props for their balance as does the DP for an overall clean look. Jason Henne’s sound work needs to pull back on the treble, but it’s overall nice work.
At the End of the Day is a lovely movie that lumbers along at a lethargic pace. Despite that, there is heart worth considering and a genuinely Christian approach to the argument.
At the End of the Day (2017) Directed by Kevin O’Brien. Written by Kevin O’Brien, Phil Grimes. Starring Stephen Shane Martin, Danielle Sagona, Tom Nowicki.
5 out of 10