This film has been so hyped in the media that I didn't really know how I would feel about it. A couple of weeks ago on Balderdash and Piffle they discussed the etymology of "gay", but no-one bothered to consider the possibility that it might be an ironic label: so many repressed, miserable and tragic characters. The film gets off to a very slow start, with minimal dialogue and heavy Southern accents; the sexual relationship seems to spring from nowhere (plot-wise, that is; cinematically you can see it coming a mile off), there's denial and awkwardness, the two cowboys go their separate ways. This being 1960s rural America, they each get married and have children (or have children and get married, in the case of Jack Twist) and the years pass before their paths cross again.
The characters aren't the sharpest tools in the box - for example, you'd think snogging in an alleyway where your other half can see you if s/he looks out from the window isn't really such a good idea, gay or straight. The plot unfolds to reveal stagnation, decay, and eventual desolation. It makes me angry, but because of its probability, in a more controlled way than I might have expected. The film ends when it has nowhere else to go. Sadly, I doubt attitudes are much different in small-town America nearly 50 years on. Can't more films have an ending like Beautiful Thing?
On a not-entirely-unrelated note, I enjoyed Richard Dawkins' mini-series The Root of All Evil. I often squirm when Darwin's Rottweiler quizzes religious types on things, it's just too unpleasantly one-sided. But in this case, all apart from the Bishop of Oxford made themselves to be fools without any really judgemental tone from Dawkins. (Dawkins then went on essentially to label the Bishop as a religious class traitor for his semi-rational views, but then again, the C of E has always been a religious institution that is happy to pick and choose from, and reinterpret, its religious texts). One thing that was really missing from the discussion was any mention of eastern religions: Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism. I doubt there's any question where Dawkins stands theologically on these, but they were never examined or challenged.