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A GATHERING OF OLD MEN

I managed to catch this film earlier this week and watch it for the very first time. Overall I felt it was quite a mediocre film, which I think was supposed to make you think, rather than sit back and enjoy.

The story is basically about the murder of a white Louisiana farmer by a black worker, and the subsequent stand made by a group of the suspect's friends, including the niece of the owner, to protect him and avoid an ugly mob lynching.

Adam plays the role of Gil, the younger brother of the murdered farmer, who tired of the constant friction between black and white tries to talk his family into not forming a lynch mob and going after the killer.

Even though Adam does not appear until 50 minutes into the film, when he does I felt the film suddenly came alive! I know I may not be classed as an impartial viewer in this respect , but there was so much scene setting in the early part of the film and a great deal of emphasis on the pride of this group of old men in making a stand for their friend, that by the time Adam's character was introduced I was really dying to see something more than just men standing around talking.

And what an appearance he made!! We first see him at University, where he seems to be very popular and is friends with everyone, black and white alike. He looked absolutely gorgeous in tight jeans, t-shirt and jacket and sooooo young! He was 25 after all. I mean this film was made the year before Mystic Pizza and I thought he looked young in that! I loved the way he seemed to be so full of energy. He was due to play in the football team the following day, and I know that would have been a game I definitely would not have missed watching!

He is told about his brothers death, and immediately goes to the scene of the crime to see what happened. He rallies at the group already gathered there and is angry and distressed at what has happened, not understanding why the killer has not already been arrested and taken away. He seems to be dispairing at the continual ongoing conflict between the two factions of black and white, and shouts at them all, asking when it is all going to stop. He leaves telling them he is going to do everything he can to stop this happening.

After the quiet talking and gathering of the men leading up to this point, I found Adam's acting powerful and refreshing. He put across the grief of losing his brother and the conflict with his own beliefs that these events need not happen, very well and so clearly. Those blue eyes were flashing with so much emotion and cold passion. He definitely had my attention!

Gil then goes back to his home where his family and friends have gathered (there's a lot of gathering in this film - hence the title!! ). He is greeted by lots of people offering their sympathies over his loss and obviously waiting to see what is going to happen next. The atmosphere feels very volatile and you get the feeling that some are only there to join in any blood letting later on.

He meets up with his father who is holding court in a crowded room, all his family close around him. Gil argues for calm and sense, even though he is still very grief stricken by the loss of his brother. But he obviously does not want the situation to flair into a full scale war and for his family to take the law into their own hands. He tells them to wait until the Sheriff has arrested the murderer and taken him away before they do anything, saying that times have changed now and that the days of vigilante groups have gone. Tempers run high and Gil is eventually rejected and sent away by his father, who seems disgusted that his son will not honour the loss of his brother by doing something about it. Gil gives up and leaves the house defeated.

That is the last we see of Gil, and even though Adam is only on screen for a period of about fifteen minutes he certainly makes his presence felt. You could feel the conflict in Gil's situation, and I think Adam's acting was first class. Plus of course he looked absolutely gorgeous!! I am glad I watched it.

Just to finish off the plotline, there is a stalemate back at the crime scene, with all the men confessing to the murder at the same time and making it impossible for the Sheriff to arrest anyone for the murder. The real murderer finally returns from hiding in the fields and gives himself up to the Sheriff who arrests him and takes him away.

Later, in the early evening, some men turn up in a truck from the Cajun community and try to cause a fight but are faced down, and leave the scene without a shot being fired. With the situation now diffused, there are celebrations by the gathering of old men and everone relaxes and things return to normal. The End.

I don't think it is a film I would have continued to watch if it was not for Adam being in it, but the scenes when he was were definitely worth watching, and I shall be glad to keep the film in my Adam collection!!

~~Sally Maddock~~

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