Big Eden

I swear, I thought I was going to a free screening of Moulin Rouge! when I got stuck watching Big Eden instead. I was a little apprehensive about sitting through a gay romantic comedy, but I had a free evening, so I thought, what the hell. In the end, I wound up halfheartedly enjoying myself.

Big Eden is the name of a small town in the most beautiful and apparently most liberal-minded corner of Montana. After 20 years away, Henry Hart (Arye Gross), a neurotic New York painter, is called back to his childhood home in order to take care of his ailing grandfather. Henry is torn up when macho Dean, the object of his teenage infatuations, also shows up in town and wants to pal around like old times. Meanwhile, Pike (Eric Schweig), a surly Native American who runs the local general store, finds himself attracted to Henry but, unable to come to terms with his feelings or his sexuality, shows his affection for Henry by secretly cooking gourmet dishes, then delivering them to the Hart household under the pretense that the meals are from the dodgy kitchen of the town spinster.

It's sweet, it's harmless, it's fluff. Writer/director Bezucha makes the standard indie mistake of populating his film with wonderful supporting characters (the film's joke is that everybody in this redneck cowboy town is completely aware – and supportive – of Henry and Pike's sexual preference, even as the two men desperately try to keep it hidden) while making his lead yet another dullard whom everybody loves to death even though his personality registers a zero. Also, while you can't go wrong with that breathtaking Montana scenery, Rob Sweeney's cinematography is mostly by-the-books. Joseph Conlan contributes a decent score, though you'll cringe as his "mystical Indian theme" plays whenever Pike appears onscreen.

That said, if you can deal with a couple of scenes of men kissing each other, you'll have a fine if forgettable time with this indie trifle. And Eric Schweig is actually quite impressive in a surprisingly complex role.