So today I lay on the couch with ice packs on my still-uncooperative arms and watched one of my favorite movies ever, and even after the several times I've seen the movie I still spent the whole time thinking how great it is.
I've read some other people's reviews of Big Eden, and there are things about the film that some people apparently don't like, but most of those things don't bother me in the slightest. It's a gay romance, but most of the "romance" consists of pining, and I'm a sucker for pining (in books, movies, tv shows, anime, songs, and pretty much everywhere), so it was bound to please me. No one in the movie is significantly mean-spirited, unkind, selfish, or bigoted. Pretty much all the characters (except, to some extent, the main character and his NY agent) actively want the best for everyone else in their community and do what they can to ensure their neighbors' happiness.
(I totally identify with pretty much every single character in this movie -- Big Eden is like a town full of cowboy Kimberlies -- which might be why I like it so much.)
So yeah ... it's pretty unrealistic. There's a Pollyanna quality. The movie lacks a certain kind of plot tension that comes from unpleasantness. The tension instead is mostly internal, coming mostly from people struggling with their own desires (sexual and romantic, sure; but also artistic and social), people struggling with their own self-definitions, people struggling to figure out where they fit in in the world and what things are most important to them.
There's quite a bit of humor, but it's understated and flies right by with no fanfare. Like the scene in which the character who has been learning to cook is getting a bit of help from the local grizzled cowboys, and we see -- just very quickly -- that one of the cowboy-hat-wearing old guys has learned to carve radishes into roses to help decorate the dishes. In fact, these old cowboys who hang around the general store provide quite a bit of the humor, just through these unexpected juxtapositions.
The only thing I don't much like about the movie, sadly, is the last 5-10 minutes. Everything suddenly gets terribly cliché, with a frantic race to the airport to keep the crush object from leaving, the arrival too late, our sad hero helplessly watching the plane pull away, the dejected suitor returning home nearly in tears, only to find that his crush object is there! He did not leave! He chose to stay! And suddenly they add water and have instant relationship!
This pile of familiar plot is followed by the long-awaited first kiss ... which seems awkward and stiff, like a kiss orchestrated between two straight men who barely know each other and who are surrounded by a dozen guys with bright lights and low microphones while a director says, "Open your mouths a little wider and turn your heads a bit more to the left." Very disappointing! I would have rather not had the kiss at all, because I would have imagined it much better than this. (It also made me admire the actors on "Queer As Folk" even more than before, because their love scenes are always hot and believable. You really feel the chemistry between the characters, unlike here.)
Maybe next time I watch it I should just eject the disc when our hero grabs his coat to race to the airport. It's all downhill from there.