Chicago indie Stephen Cone took a quantum leap forward with this moving 2011 drama about a Christian youth group in small-town South Carolina. The main story centers on a high school boy coming out of the closet (Tyler Ross) and his two pals, one sympathetic (Molly Kunz) and the other appalled (Allison Torem). But there's also a story line involving a youth minister (Cone) and his wife (Sadieh Rifai) whose tender feelings for each other fail to compensate for their unhappy sex life. Given the ongoing friction between gay rights and Christian fundamentalism, the movie is distinctive for its respectful treatment of religious devotion; the characters are good people trying to reconcile their spiritual ideals with their physical longing, and Cone, assisted by a terrific cast, renders them with impressive delicacy and understanding.
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Stephen Cone's religious drama The Wise Kids opens Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival