If they handed out Oscars for ‘Most Hand-wringingly Melodramatic Movie’, I think Mulligans might win. Jock Tyler (James) invites his university friend Chase to stay with him and his family over the summer. However Chase has a secret he hasn’t told James – he’s gay – but that’s not the only surprise James has in store, as it turns out that even though his parents have been together for over 20 years, his dad also harbours secret desires for members of the same sex and ends up sleeping with Chase.
Cue much hand-wringing, sobbing, sulking, anger, reconciliation, looking mournfully off into the distance and people trying to understand each other’s pain. While that could have been okay in a movie-of-the-week way, it’s more difficult to get over the fact that ultimately this is a film that wants us to say it’s ok for a married man to sleep with his son’s best friend and that everyone involved, include his wife and children, should be understanding about that (everyone finds out very quickly about what’s going on, because Chase and Tyler’s dad prove stunningly incompetent at trying to have a secret affair).
Now I’m sure being a secretly gay man married to a straight women isn’t much fun, but even beside the fact you probably shouldn’t be married in that situation, it doesn’t mean everyone ought to be terribly supportive when it turns out you’ve shagged your kid’s friend as soon as the rest of the family are out of the door. Likewise, would you find it reasonable for people to expect you to forgive your friend if they slept with one of your parents, whether your mate was gay, straight or somewhere in-between?
There are a lot of issues in Mulligans that are worth looking at, not least the subject of why a gay man would marry a woman and stay married to her for years, but at least for me, the movie shoots itself in the foot by offering a type of OTT melodrama based on some rather dodgy ethics. Just because you’re a gay man, it doesn’t mean you suddenly can’t help yourself and have to act out on every desire you have, but Mulligans seems to disagree, and also seems to think everyone else should just forgive you for it.
Overall Verdict: An incredibly melodramatic movie that only really works if you think gay men should be able to shag whoever they want, irrespective of what boundaries that crosses or who it might effect.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
(This review previously featured on MovieMuser.co.uk)