The children in a religious family clash with their parents as they prepare for the wake of their brother, Mitchel.
Growing up Catholic didn’t honestly impact me until 8th-grade. I should say that attending Catholic School didn’t make me feel any different until one specific religion class. It was a moment that changed my entire life. It was explained to me, that telling my mother I was gay would be the equivalent of telling her I had committed murder. That was a defining moment. Today, my mother lovingly refers to one of my younger sisters and me as her “heathen children.” I begrudgingly attended Christmas and Easter Mass with my family throughout my college years. Then I put my foot down. I would no longer perpetuate the charade. To put this all in extra context, I am a straight woman. I grew up in the arts, surrounded by some of the most extraordinary humans on this planet. I continue to defend equal rights and acceptance, despite pushback from too many. Films like Scott Boswell’s A WAKE are important for families who may not even know they are in crisis. This story offers acceptance and unconditional love as lifesaving tools.
Noah Urrea plays twin brothers Mason and the recently deceased Mitchel. The youngest sibling Molly is planning a memorial wake for Mitchel. Invitations are sent to older sister Megan, their grandmother, their Baptist pastor, and Mitchel’s boyfriend, Jameson. The boys’ father and stepmother are typical religious conservatives, touting blasphemy, a stiff upper lip, and an extremely toxic, “man up” tone. The majority of the family is in the dark about Mitchel’s life, and Mason is left to deal with the guilt and trauma of losing his brother. Secrets and sadness have a poisoning effect on a family. A Wake addresses them in an accessible way.
The cast is amazing. Each actor brings the energy necessary to tell this story with truth and realism. Some moments are awkward, while others are rage-inducing. Megan Trout, as older sister Megan, is great. She’s the voice of reason in all of the chaos, whether the other family members are ready or not. Kolton Stewart, as Jameson, is lovely. His quiet strength brings a calm to the sadness. Bettina Devin as Grandmother is a gem. She’s elegant and understanding. Sofia Rosinsky‘s neurotic mentality is a story unto itself. Through flashbacks, we can see a clear progression of her personality, her growing manic tendencies, and genuine curiosity. She’s a spitfire.
Noah Urrea gives life to two equally intriguing characters, Mason and Mitchel. He has star quality. His narration, and the accompanying camerawork and score, push A Wake to the next level. If I had to nitpick, because that score is so good, you notice when it doesn’t appear. The film would have benefitted from more music. At times, that silence consumed whatever dialogue was occurring, landing it into a hokey category. When everything came together, the culmination of A Wake does exactly what it’s meant to do. It tells a story of a family coping with the loss of their brother, their son, and their grandson. There are honest moments where chills happen. It’s wonderful storytelling and impactful LGBTQ representation.
Available on DVD & VOD: August 31, 2021
Cast: Noah Urrea, Kolton Stewart, Sofia Rosinsky, Megan Trout, Bettina Devin
Directed by: Scott Boswell
Written by: Scott Boswell