Saturday Church

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I T ' S  N O T  W H A T  A  M O V I E  I S  A B O U T ,  I T ' S  H O W  I T  I S  A B O UT  I T

"14-year-old Ulysses, a shy and effeminate boy, who finds himself coping with new responsibilities as 'man of the house' after the death of his father. Living alongside his mother, younger brother, and conservative aunt, Ulysses is also struggling with questions about his gender identity. He finds an escape by creating a world of fantasy filled with dance and music. Ulysses’ journey takes a turn for the better when he encounters a vibrant transgender community, who take him to 'Saturday Church,' a program for LGBTQ youth. Ulysses manages to keep his two worlds apart; appeasing his aunt and discovering his passion for the NYC ball scene, and voguing, until his double life is revealed."

Given the cult legacy of Paris Is Burning, it's odd that film rarely visits the vogue scene. One of my favourite movies of all time is Leave It On The Floor, Sheldon Larry's glorious and criminally underrated love letter to ballroom culture, now joined by Damon Cardasis' glittering jewel of a film, Saturday Church.

The picture is carried on the young shoulders of Luka Kain (with whom there's a nice interview here), who at 17-years-old is already a showbiz veteran. He's a joy to behold, and the scenes of him tentatively practicing his voguing skills as he walks down the street are sure to melt even the iciest heart. Like Ashton Sanders in Moonlight, he makes you feel what he feels.

In common with Leave It On The Floor, Saturday Church is punctuated by musical numbers, and because I'm a big, soppy queen, my personal favourite is (So Lost) Without You, not least because it showcases the vocal talents of the obscenely beautiful Marquis Rodriguez. The film's depiction of a "found family" (the family we choose, or who choose us) is buoyed by strong performances from Kate Bornstein, Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore and Alexia Garcia.

If I have one criticism it's that there's not enough of it. At just over an hour and twenty minutes, Saturday Church is on the shorter end of the spectrum, and it feels like some hinted at plot points are unexplored (Ulysses' relationship with Raymond, for example). But, as they say, always leave 'em wanting more.

Saturday Church is an absolute joy. I'll be coming back again, and again.

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