|Jamey Sheridan & Mr. Will-W.|
Tony Award-winning Actor Jamey Sheridan is known best perhaps for his role as Captain James Deakins on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he starred from 2001-2006. The veteran Actor also has appeared in numerous films like Syriana alongside George Clooney and Matt Damon and more recently NBC series Trauma as Dr. Joe Saviano.
After doing a full day of Press yesterday, Sheridan premiered his new film Handsome Harry tonight, a small-budget indie flick from Director Bette Gordon. The film is about a divorced middle-aged man named Harry (Sheridan) who decides to go on a Road Trip to help him gain some closure with an incident which occurred many years prior while he had been in the Navy. On one eventful and intoxicated night, him and his friends had attacked violently a friend of his, David (Campbell Scott), after suspecting that he was Gay.
Harry receives a call from ailing friend Thomas (Steven Buscemi) whose dying wish is to gain forgiveness from David. Thus, Harry decides to go on a trip revisiting those friends of his who were involved in the attack, ultimately leading him to David in Florida.
Along the journey, Jamey encounters old friends played by Peter (John Savage), Professor Porter (Aidan Quinn) and Gebhardt (Titus Welliver), some more welcoming than others, but all looking to bury their shameful past. Mysterious layer upon layer is peeled as we get bits of pieces of Harry and David's backstory. Oddly, we still don't find that we know much about Harry still. Ultimately both former friends are led to each other, but will forgiveness be granted? And will we ever get to unravel Harry's darkest secret?
Handsome Harry's strong performances are plentiful and its star Sheridan does a fine job exercising restraint in his role right up to the film's most crucial and telling moment. His insistence on holding back effectively draws reactions from the film's supporting characters, pushing the pace of the film along; there never appears to be a lagging moment.
At a time when Gay Bullying seems to be very much at the forefront of the public psyche, this film's release couldn't come at a more appropriate moment. With a conclusion which is left rather open-ended, Handsome Harry's moody tone lingers long after the credits roll. The film is a realistic study of wreckless action and a lifetime of consequence. It is up to you decide whether or not this is a happy ending or not. Grade: A-
Having been lucky enough to be invited to the Premiere of Handsome Harry, I did get to chat with Sheridan for a bit to discuss his experience on the project. Sheridan explained that he was drawn to the role of Harry for many reasons as he enjoys Film Noir v. much. He expressed excitement at the challenge of being able to take the role of a placid-faced, Good Time Charlie type character and tell as much of a story with as little as possible.
When asked about his own experience with Gay Bullying - even as a married man with a wife and three children - Sheridan recalled growing up as a child in Pasadena, California where he'd hear about teenagers in his neighbourhood who would go on attacking sprees. It was only much later in life that he realized that these were attacks on Gay people. He also indicated that he has many friends who also were victims of Gay Bashing at some point or another in their lives.
Sheridan revealed that he is a huge fan of Jazz and incorporated this into Handsome Harry by using it to illustrate different stages in the friendships of the men in the story. Prior to the violent attack, the characters had embraced the Music and were brought together by it. After the attack, it is as if they had shut themsleves out of the Music. Everything down to the film's official poster, which Sheridan asked to be re-done at least three times "on a $1.49 budget", had Jazz-inspired inflections.
Being a versatile Actor of Theatre, Television and Film, I was curious to which he preferred the most. Laughingly, he told me that this is one of the most common questions he gets asked. Sheridan loves Theatre but with children, this would mean sacrificing time with them. He feels that it is much like Charity Work, as the financial rewards of working in Theatre really aren't substantial enough. Comparing for me Films to reading Novels, he enjoys starting new Film projects much like reading new Novels. At the end of the day, he wants to be able to look at his Book Shelf and see as many different Novels there as possible.
Vagrant Films' Handsome Harry is now in limited release. Check out its official website here.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)