Director Michael Samuels tenderly explores the trials of gay love across two decades in this deeply moving and emotional two-part British Movie, Man in an Orange Shirt.
The movie features two separate yet interwoven stories: Part 1 tells of the obstacles that Western society is putting into the love relationship of the two veterans Michael and Thomas in the immediate post-war period. Part 2 describes the trials and tribulations of 21st century partnerships, using the example of Michael’s grandson. The stories are linked by Flora, as Michael’s grieving wife and Adam’s grandmother, whose unrequited love for Michael and conservative education results in a hateful response to Adam’s coming-out.
The thing viewers must know about part one and part 2 is that they weren’t written to be straightforwardly celebratory. Both parts (or episodes) were designed to be profoundly uncomfortable to watch, by both straight and gay viewers.
The purpose behind this unusual move is that writer Patrick Gale (who this story was inspired by his own family history) wanted to show that there are hundreds of well-adjusted gay people out there, truly loved and supported by their families and with emotional lives that are integrated into their work lives and so on. But there are also still a great many people who don’t feel able to be out at work, or to their parents and who, at great cost to their mental health, tell themselves that this is perfectly okay.
Throughout both parts, viewers won’t be able to control their sentiments as they slowly watch how the story unravels. The first part was fairly fast paced with some really nuanced emotional moments. Nuanced yes, but absolutely gut-punching as well!
I was personally more interested in part two, for the sole reason that I was able to connect more with the characters and understand their motives better. I was involuntarily invested in their stories and background. I found myself emotionally connected to characters I have just met. If anything, this just proves that these characters, intentionally or not, are universal and totally relatable.
Despite this slight shift in tones between both parts, they still balance each other. What part one lacked, part two made sure to deliver and expand on it and vice versa.
They both explored some really profound and intricate topics such as Love, oppression, society, addiction and uniformity… amongst many more.
The performances were all convincing and filled with feelings, but Julian Morris was breathtaking. He was literally oozing authenticity and pure charisma. I was personally stupefied by how he was able to portray his character.
With its spiraling score and expressive close-ups filled with meaningful expressions, Man in an Orange shirt’s story is the kind we’ve seen many times before but with male and female characters. Gladly this time, this movie decided to go with a different and more diverse point of view that I think really paid off.
I highly recommend it.
Two entwined yet separate stories illustrate the very different challenges to happiness for two gay couples in England — Michael and Thomas in the aftermath of World War II and Adam and Steve in the present day. Although they are set decades apart, the two stories are linked by family and a paintin…
Director: Michael Samuels
Network: BBC One
Awards: International Emmy Award for Best TV Movie or Miniseries