SATURDAY CHURCH – A Review by Cynthia Flores
A fierce new film that makes you feel like you just watched a good Broadway show. Saturday Church is not what you would expect at first glance. Spoiler alert!!!! If you don’t like musicals or coming of age stories were the lead is gay, then this is not for you. If however you are “Fabulous”, smart, and can sway your hips to great tunes, then step into Saturday Church and grab a pew because we are gonna hear a story about love. Love of friends, love of self, lost love, and the love of your family.
Saturday Church tells the story of fourteen-year-old Ulysses (Luka Kain), a struggling teenage boy with religious and gender identity issues. We meet him and his family at his father's funeral. He and his younger, eight-year-old brother Abe (Jaylin Fletcher) not only have to deal with the loss of their father, they also have to deal with their Aunt Rose (Regina Taylor) moving in with them. She’s there to help take care of them while their mother Amara (Margot Bingham), a nurse, works double shifts to keep the family afloat. At school, we see that Ulysses likes to dress in the bathroom for gym class because he doesn't want to let anyone see that he's wearing women's stockings under his jeans.
Saturday Church tells Ulysses’ story through the occasional song and dance that will pop up naturally. Along the lines of the 2016 film, LA LA Land. The songs here were composed and co-written by musician-turned film composer Nathan Larson. There are moments where the music and dance transcend what just acting out the scene would have accomplished.
This is writer/director Damon Cardasis’ feature film debut. He shows a deft touch at getting strong performances out of his talented cast. He’s not afraid to let Ulysses’ silence and soulful eyes tell the most intimate parts of his story. These include finding the approval he misses at home from his Aunt Rose, from his transgendered friends that he hangs out with at a place called “Saturday Church” that uses a Lutheran church once a week to feed and minister to the LGBTQ community. Ulysses also experiences first love with his first boyfriend Raymond (Marquis Rodriguez) who is a sweet and soulful poet.
It’s not all rosy love songs and dancing, the film also deals with some rough aspects of rejection and what life on the streets for young men can mean.
Saturday Church is not a perfect film; if it were, it would have played in more theaters. However, it is an uplifting and touching indie flick. It’s based on the real life “Saturday Church” gathering in NYC. So, if you like good music and coming of age stories, then the film Saturday Church is for you. I give it a solid B rating.
Directed by Damon Cardasis
Written By Damon Cardasis
Selig Rating B
Running Time 1hr 22min
Drama / Musical
Release Limited and VOD January 12th
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.