You Can Live Forever
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 36m
Director(s): Mark Slutsky, Sarah Watts
Writer(s): Mark Slutsky, June LaPorte
Cast: Anwen O'Driscoll, June LaPorte, Liane Balaban, Deragh Campbell, Antoine Yared, Hasani Freeman, Tim Campbell
Where To Watch: in select theaters and On Demand May 5, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: Step into the world of YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER, a compelling coming-of-age narrative set in the early 1990s, as it seamlessly weaves a tale of young love mixed with the battles of religious rights and wrongs. The movie follows Jaime's (Anwen O'Driscoll) journey, who finds herself immersed in a Jehovah's Witness community after her father's passing prompts her to move in with her aunt.
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER's storyline embraces classic storytelling while maintaining a steady rhythm, enhanced by its dynamic music and striking cinematography. The film portrays the enthusiasm of youth, the ongoing battle between religious convictions and LGBTQ+ experiences, and the inherent human yearning for connection—all while upholding a genuine and respectful tone to both sides of the “argument.”
Rather than vilifying Marike's (June Laporte) faith, the movie accentuates the sense of belonging and purpose that religion brings to its practitioners. A nuanced take on the Jehovah's Witness faith is presented, steering clear of depicting the religion as problematic. I genuinely appreciated this take; while I am not religious, it was intriguing that they drove the focus of the film's story away from the easy scapegoat. Instead, focusing on the challenges naturally presented by two people with differing opinions on life.
In an era where diverse representation in media is vital, YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER carves out its niche in the ever-growing library of films highlighting underrepresented stories. While not every viewer will personally relate to the plot, the film delivers an intriguing forbidden love narrative, ala Romeo and Juliet, with an LGBT angle. The film owes much of its success to the dynamic portrayals of the leads by Anwen O'Driscoll and June Laporte, who breathe life into their roles as star-crossed lovers.
Directed by the duo of Mark Slutsky and Sarah Watts, YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER is a genuine, heartwarming queer coming-of-age tale that delves into yearning and suppressed love. The lead characters grapple with the repercussions of their mutual attraction within the confines of their religious setting. O'Driscoll and Laporte captivate viewers with their heartfelt performances, taking them on an unforgettable journey through their characters' emotional odysseys.
The film allows the viewers to examine young women's struggles as they try to come to terms with their blossoming emotions within the structure of their faith. The intricacies of a conservative religious upbringing and the challenges that arise when facing conflicting feelings are explored in depth.
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER shines through its engaging storyline, exceptional acting, and powerful exploration of how religion shapes relationships. This film will impact its audience and contribute to the growing visibility of LGBTQ+ narratives in the media. Easily one of my favorite films of the year; sometimes, the simplest of stories are the best.
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[photo courtesy of GOOD DEED ENTERTAINMENT]