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Film / Blackbird

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Blackbird is a 2014 movie adaptation of the 1986 YA novel of the same name by Larry Duplechan, directed by Patrik-Ian Polk and starring Julian Walker, Mo'Nique, Isaiah Washington, Kevin Allesee, Terrel Tilford, Gary LeRoi Gray, Torrey Laamar and Nikki Jane.

Randy Rousseau is a closeted gay teenage boy living in a Mississippi Baptist community, where he is a lead singer in the church choir. His attempts to suppress his attraction to one of his male friends causes him great distress. On top of this, his sister inexplicably disappeared six years ago, his mother has lost her mind as a result, and his father has left the family home.

Blackbird is a coming-of-age story for Randy, his friends Efrem, Crystal, Todd and Leslie, and a mysterious young man who comes into Randy's life and leads him down a path of discovery.


Blackbird provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Randy's mother Claire beats and spits on him when she catches him making out with Marshall, blaming his "sin" for Chrissie's disappearance.
  • Alliterative Name: Randy Rousseau.
  • Closet Key: Marshall turns out to be this for Randy.
  • Coming-Out Story: For Randy, who gradually comes to terms with his sexuality over the course of the story.
  • Cool Board: Efrem carries his skateboard around with him.
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling: The teenagers are producing a gay version of Romeo and Juliet, and the balcony scene and the tragic deaths of the young lovers are re-enacted in Todd and Leslie's lives.
  • Cure Your Gays: Randy tries to do this to himself, and later his mother and Pastor Crandall try to drive the homosexuality out of him, all without success.
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  • Dead All Along: Todd visits Randy at his window one last time, and during his speech it becomes apparent that he is a visitation in Randy's dream, Todd having committed suicide by vehicular impact on the death of his girlfriend Leslie months ago.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Efrem's wisecracks provide much of the humour in the film.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Randy is a male example, in relation to his best friends Efrem and Crystal, his father Lance, and his ultimate love interest Marshall.
  • Disappeared Dad: Subverted. Lance left the family home, but he ends up being there for his son far more than Claire is, providing some much-needed fatherly advice.
  • Dream Intro: Randy and his crush Todd are in front of the church choir singing a duet, after which they disrobe and start kissing passionately.
  • Driven to Suicide: Todd kills himself soon after his pregnant girlfriend Leslie dies in childbirth, in a tragic echo of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Face on a Milk Carton: A disturbed Claire is found in the store, having put pictures of Chrissie on all the milk cartons, when Randy arrives on the scene.
  • Fainting Seer: Downplayed. Randy has premonitions of Leslie's death, and the first one leaves him momentarily dizzy and unresponsive.
  • Gay Aesop: The overall message of the movie is one of love and authenticity over judgment and dogma.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Randy is in love with the popular and handsome Todd.
  • Gayngst: Randy suffers from this, intensified by his religious beliefs; thus, he is deeply in the closet.
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: Leslie declares this opinion when Randy asks her if she minds him having love scenes on the stage with her boyfriend. Randy's mother Claire is revealed to have thought this, enough to dare Lance to make out with another boy.
  • Homoerotic Dream: Randy has several of these, one involving the beginning of a threesome.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Randy's crush Todd is straight and has a girlfriend. His appearance in Randy's final dream suggests that he may not have been 100% straight.
  • Last Het Romance: Crystal invokes this for Randy by proposing to him that they sleep together, to which he eventually agrees; their encounter makes it clear to him that he is not straight.
  • Magical Queer: When Randy starts having inexplicable premonitions, Crystal starts hinting to him that he may be this trope. He is.
  • Preserve Your Gays: All the gay characters survive, with Randy and Marshall ending up in a happy relationship, while straight couple Todd and Leslie meet a tragic end involving a teenage pregnancy and a double suicide.
  • Proscenium Reveal: After Marshall offers to take Randy to the theatre audition, the scene cuts to him menacing and sexually assaulting Randy. A moment later it is revealed that this is a scene they are acting out on the stage.
  • Sanity Slippage: Claire, as a result of Chrissie's disappearance. She gets better when Chrissie returns.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Randy asks Efrem if he's gay, the latter responds with one, scoffing and saying flippantly "God, I hope so. What else am I going to do with all those Lady Gaga CDs?" He's later spotted by Randy cruising with guys at night.
  • Settled for Gay: A downplayed example. Crystal knows that Randy is gay, but she chooses him as the boy to whom she wants to lose her virginity, both to make sure it's someone she likes, and to help him sort out his sexual confusion.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: For all of the teenagers, with mixed results. Randy's encounters with Crystal and Marshall help him to come out of the closet, Crystal ensures that the boy who takes her virginity is someone she cares for, Todd and Leslie's sexual liaison ultimately brings about both of their deaths, while Efrem's promiscuous night cruising result in him being sexually assaulted and having to be tested for STDs.
  • Shot Reverse Shot: During the dialogue between Randy and his father Lance, the camera shows each one through the eyes of the other.
  • Stepford Snarker: Efrem is a habitual joker and Deadpan Snarker, but sometimes this is a cover for his real feelings.
  • Straight Gay: Randy, Marshall, and Efrem are all gay, without being at all camp or especially feminine.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Chrissie's unexpected homecoming at the end influences Randy's mother to be more accepting of his homosexuality, his father to come home, and Randy to become happier in his relationships with his family, his friends and his boyfriend.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Leslie's is what ultimately causes her and Todd's deaths.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Randy, Efrem, and Crystal.
  • Transparent Closet: Efrem and Crystal can see perfectly well that Randy is gay, but he is in denial as he believes it to be a sin.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Lance has shades of this, but Randy warms up to him during the course of the story.

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