Queer childhood in the Soviet Union, move to the United States

Wes Hurley often told his own story. Titled “Growing Up Gay in Russia,” the Vladivostok-born filmmaker wrote for the Huffington Post about growing up as a gay boy in the USSR in the 1980s. In 2017, his short documentary “Little Potato” premiered at the Festival SXSW. And he turned the early experiences of his early years into a virtual reality experience called “Potato Dreams.” It was probably only a matter of time before, whose debut feature “Vaxy Moon in Fallen Jewel” was rarely seen outside of queer festivals, would even make it into a feature film.

“Potato Dreams of America” ​​(in select German cinemas from August 4, 2022) is essentially a two-part film – and by design. Early on, Hurley also talks about growing up in the Soviet Union, where he stands with his dreams as a happy, optimistic boy in gray everyday life, inspired by Hollywood movies that get it right. There is more harm than thanks to an instant antenna built on the flickers of the screen. While little Vasily (Hersch Powers) pointed it out to Jean-Claude Van Damme (whose early influence on growing homosexuals of a certain generation, as “Flea” recently told us), his mother Lena (Cera Barberi) is in prison as a doctor becomes increasingly disillusioned with everyday political reality.

bottom reminiscent of sitcom plywood


Zoom Movie Poster: “America’s Potato Dreams”

In the first half of the film, the director deliberately avoids stylistically conveying the truth of his story, preferring to place his actors in settings reminiscent of the Plywood sitcom and let them speak largely American. When Lena tries to be a catalog bride and thus allow herself and her son to have a fresh start in the United States, not only does the cast change (suddenly including a heavy Russian accent), but now looks more realistic and even scores. And both Lena (Maria C. Cumminsey), whose angry conservative husband John (Dan Lauria) hid their secret, and Vasily (Tyler Bocock), who is now fully committed to their dating, must first get together. settle in Seattle. .

Hurley pays an explicit homage to fellow actor Greg Araki at the end of the film, and while “Potato Dreams of America” ​​never develops his courage and energy, the comedy about difference with fantastical flair is strongly odd. . In the tradition of 1990s and early 2000s cinema. Not only thanks to the original appearances of queer celebrity Lee Delaria (“Orange is the new black”) as a grandmother or of Jesus Christ as Jonathan Bennett (“Mean Girls”). But also because it manages to make a modest budget with a few quirks, minor production flaws, and plenty of charm and ingenuity.

movie information

America’s Potato Dreams. The comedy. USA 2021. Director: Wes Hurley. With: Lee Delaria, Dan Lauria, Jonathan Bennett, Amelia Zirin-Brown, Sofia Mitry Schloss, Sera Barberi, Mariah Kaminsky, Tyler Bocock, Hersh Powers. Duration: 95 mins. Language: Original English version with German subtitles. FSK 16 Location: Cinemion. Theatrical release: August 4, 2022

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