Director: Glenn Gaylord
Writer: David W. Ross
Stars: David W. Ross, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Alicia Witt, Maurice Compte, and Grant Bowler
I Do tackles the two hotbed issues of immigration and gay marriage in a non-political but personal way through Jack Edwards (David W. Ross). The story begins a few years in the past at a dinner with Jack, his brother Peter (Grant Bowler) and Peter’s wife Mya (Alicia Witt). During dinner Peter & Mya announce she is pregnant, and everyone is happy. But after dinner a tragic accident occurs.
Fast-forward to the present: Mya is a struggling single mother, and Jack has given-up his personal life to act as a surrogate father for Tara (Jessica Tyler Brown)–picking her up from school, tucking her into bed at night before he heads home, and always being there to help Mya in emergencies. But then everything changes when Jack’s extension for his work visa is denied. Off the record his immigration attorney informs him unless he gets married he will be forced to leave the country and reapply for a visa from his native England.
Desperate to stay, Jack asks his friend & work colleague Ali (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) if she will marry him. Being rash, recently broken-up from her partner, and needing a place to live Ali accepts. As they live together they develop a platonic “married” relationship which Ali grows to enjoy. But then Jack meets Mano (Maurice Compte)–a Spaniard with dual citizenship since he was born in the United States while his father was stationed in the country. Mano is understanding and compassionate about Jack’s living situation and his obligation towards Mya & Tara. They grower closer together and spend more & more time with each other. Ali finds herself alone at Jack’s apartment when immigration officers appear for an inspection, and request for an interview with the recently married couple. Shaken by the impromptu visit, subsequent interview, and the very real possibility of serving ten-years in prison if their marriage is revealed to be a fraud, Ali asks Jack for a divorce. Once again Jack faces the possibility of deportation.
The story is well crafted and genuine. It comes to a believable conclusion where everything does not have a happy ending, but you know everyone is going to be all right. Throughout there are heartfelt moments where real pain is expressed. Mya admitting to Jack during a heated argument that she wished it had been him and not Peter who died hurts, but is a sentiment most people can identify with given her circumstances. Also, the script does not downplay Tara; giving her “out of the mouth of babes” moments that ring true and are not forced.
Each of the characters is well-developed and believable. David Ross (Jack) and Alicia Witt (Mya) are raw, broken and desperate during their emotional argument. Ross and Maurice Compte (Mano) are very touching when together. The interplay between Ross and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Ali) at the end runs the gamut from annoyance to anger to regret and then reconciliation.
The only negatives of the film are minor. The Mano character is a little too perfect in the beginning. Also, if Ali and Jack work for the same photographer how is it that they haven’t seen each other since she moved-out of his apartment? It is a detail that could have been explained away early by making it clear she was a contract employee for specific photo shoots and not a full-time employee.
Overall I Do is a timely film. Like Naked As We Came, it has good potential to appeal to a straight audience. But whereas Naked As We Came is a story where some characters happen to be gay, I Do is a story that can only exist because the protagonist is gay.
Grade = A-
PS (Slight Spoiler Alert) There is a scene where Mano, being an American Citizen and with the both of them living in New York, proposes to Jack in order for them to be married and Jack to stay in this county. The immigration attorney correctly states that though gay marriage is a state issue and New York allows it, immigration is a federal issue and does not recognize it. It is in interesting fact which I never thought of before, but has horrible consequences. In effect, if your partner is forced to leave the county because of an immigration issue, and even though you are legally married, then the only way you can stay with him/her is to leave the country with them. Think about that.
What will the federal government do if and when gay marriage is legal in more states? At what number does this move from inconvenient problem to serious issue; in other words how many states have to approve it before the federal government acknowledge it has a serious legal issue? Thirty states? Twenty-Four? How about Fifteen that represent 60% of the population?