Director Justin Kelly re-casts James Franco as the main character in the follow up to his feature length debut King Cobra in which Franco played an egotistical and mentally unstable director of a gay porn studio. This time he plays real life figure Michael Glatze, a gay youth activist who created a national controversy when he claimed to no longer be gay and became a straight Christian pastor. I Am Michael follows his life in San Francisco with his boyfriend Bennett (Zachary Quinto), where in conjunction with his journalist career for a magazine, he is a prominent political activist guidance and reassurance to the homosexual youth. The film takes a turn as Michael believes he has been spoken to by God, and endeavours to embark on a journey of self discovery, renouncing his previous life and friends and ultimately ending up at a Christian Bible school in rural Wyoming where he falls for a girl, Rebekah (Emma Roberts), and becomes the pastor of his own church.
By the looks of the trailer, the biopic drama is a a few notches above Kelly’s first feature and a high quality piece of cinema – which is to be expected of anything that gains the nod of approval from executive producer Gus Van Sant. The story – a sort of modern, reverse Brokeback Mountain love triangle – looks a very moving exploration of denial and love in a modern climate. From Gus Van Sant’s Milk, to his own project Interior. Leather Bar, sexuality is a theme Franco is continuously attracted to, and he looks to give one of his best performances to date in a role that demands a lot more of him than we are used to lately. However, Quinto gives his usual whiny performance in the trailer, and Roberts is two-dimensional as always. The film also features Avan Jogia, Charlie Carver – the Teen Wolf actor who came out last year and Daryl Hannah from Netflix’s Sense8.
I Am Michael premiered at Sundance back in 2015 to mixed reviews and will finally be released theatrically in the US and on demand on January 27th. You can watch the trailer below.
James Franco in I Am Michael