‘Stonewall’ fails as a message movie

What It’s About

The gay rights movement deserved a better movie than the inflated, maudlin melodrama “Stonewall.”

This mostly ludicrous fiction, written by Jon Robin Baitz (“Hollywood Dreams’), is loosely based on facts, and attempts to depict the hardship conditions leading up to the riots, which were started at a seedy Mafia-owned gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969.

The violent demonstrations are considered a turning point for the marginalized LGBT community, prompting activism and efforts for equality legislation.

In the heavy hands of Roland Emmerich (“2012”), we are manipulated to care about the plight of Danny (Jeremy Irvine), a bright small-town kid who was kicked out of his Indiana home.

He must survive the sordid streets of New York City, and his ostracization back home is told in gauzy sepia flashbacks revealing a cliched Norman Rockwell Midwest life.

The innocent Danny is taken under the wing of flamboyant drag queens who live in squalor, including tough Ray/Ramona (Jonny Beauchamp), a dreamer, but is wooed away by slick activist Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a smooth seducer who has much nicer digs.

Corrupt police, seedy mob bosses and homophobes oppress the poor persecuted LGBT community of hustlers and homeless youth, all drawn in broad stereotypes.


You’d be hard-pressed to find more over-the-top portrayals collectively in a film this year than this bunch of over-exaggerated characters. The hammy actors must have presumed they were making an important film.

Irvine, who played the young boy in “War Horse,” is handsome but unconvincing as Danny, whose reticence doesn’t forecast his emergence as riot leader.

What Works/Doesn’t

The history is good to know, but the subject is mishandled in so many ways, that it results in an epic failure as a message movie.

This version of “Stonewall” does the movement absolutely no favors, and would be regarded as a setback if anyone really paid attention to it.

1 star out of 4

Director: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ron Perlman, Jonny Beauchamp, and Joey King

Rated: R for sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug use.

Length: 2:09