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Morgan is the inspiring story of Morgan Oliver, a young athlete determined that a bicycle accident that left him paralyzed will not change him. He takes a chance on love when he meets Dean Kagen on a basketball court. Dean helps Morgan train for the same race in which he had his accident. But when he sees that Morgan will risk everything to win, Dean walks out. Left alone to face the race and demons that caused his accident, Morgan teeters between what he needs and what he wants. Can he find the strength to pull himself back up again?
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The drama unfolds once Morgan decides he wants to compete in the wheelchair division of the very same race that cost him his ability to walk, where Morgan, because of his hyper-competitive nature, caused an accident involving himself and two other competitors on a very dangerous part of the course. This same hyper-competitive nature leads to his doing things he ought not to be doing and refusing to listen to reason from Dean, his doctor, or anyone else.
This film is a journey for Morgan where he must confront his past and his present, and he must find a way to learn from his mistakes and move forward. This is also, to a lesser extent, a journey for Dean in finding a new way to live following the death of his mother. But most of all, it is a romance featuring a paraplegic romantic lead, which is something that is very rare to find. And better yet, it is a romance that delves into the issue of disabled sexuality, which we almost never see on film. And Morgan is pretty cute, too, so that helps.
This is a male/male romance, but it is not a coming out story; rather, the central focus of the story is Morgan's disability. The film addresses both the disability and the romance from a variety of angles and is, I think, one of the most comprehensive films I've seen with regard to disability and romance. It's a low budget film with acting that could be better, but the writing/directing/production team of Michael Akers and Sandon Berg, as well as Leo Minaya, who played the title character, Morgan, did quite a lot of research in preparation for this film (though there are certainly some important gaps). Leo MInaya is not paraplegic himself, and this was a deliberate casting decision on behalf of the filmmakers because the film originally was going to contain scenes of Morgan before his accident which ended up being cut from the final version of the film. I think that things like Photoshop and body doubles could get around the reasons they cited for hiring a non-disabled actor instead of a disabled one, but the actor they cast was very dedicated to portraying the reality of Morgan's paralysis. There was a scene early on in the film where Dean helps Morgan with his leg exercises, and the director had instructed Leo MInaya to keep his leg up during the scene after Dean let go of it, and Mr. Minaya insisted that this would be impossible for Morgan to do and he made sure that the film reflected this. There was another particular scene that was very physically intense, and in the commentary, the filmmakers point out multiple times that Leo Minaya refused to use his legs to help him with this very difficult scene, insisting on pulling himself back up and over the wall using only his arms. A lot of actors, particularly in low budget indie films, might not have this kind of dedication to the role they were playing, and so although I think a paraplegic actor would have been preferable, Leo MInaya did a great job of being Morgan. Leo Minaya and Jack Kesy are not gay in real life, either, but they managed to do a great job with that aspect of their roles, as well.
Overall, I would recommend this film. The characters are well-rounded and authentic, and there's more to Morgan's life than his disability. Morgan and Dean's relationship doesn't shy away from the issues of Morgan's disability, but it's much more than that, as well. And Morgan can't get it up without a little blue pill, which shows that the filmmakers listened to the guys they talked to about paraplegic sexuality and erectile dysfunction. It isn't perfect, and I really wish they had used a paraplegic actor, but it is much more than we usually see, and in general, it is a good, complex film that tackles the issues that matter. I've seen it three times now and it actually gets better each time I watch it as I notice more nuance and detail within the story.
In this well acted drama, both men find something new and potentially wonderful in the development of their relationship. The subject of the film concerns how they work out their relationship and deal with issues they came into the relationship with.
Both actors give fine performances that ring true, and the development of the characters throughout the film is a realistic portrayal how couples learn to be more open after significant losses in their lives have shut them down, for a period of time.
The drama that they create to deal with their losses is probably necessary for their resolution. Catharsis is usually important in dealing with all the pent up feelings that major losses involve and coming out the other side intact. The film does a nice job of dealing with all these issues and it would be easy to see, when things settle down, that these two men would have a relationship for many years to come.
Unfortunately, the movie sort of disintegrates in its second half. Producers Akers and Berg must have thought a simple love story would be too boring, so they shoehorned a boatload of dramatic tension into the gentle, lovely story and ruined it. There are no gay-beating thugs, which is the stock drama-injector in gay movies, and its absence here is a great relief; but the absurd and highly annoying behavior of the main character is even more infuriating in a different, if much less hackneyed, way.
A consistent delight throughout the movie, though, is Jack Kesy's gentle but powerful performance as Dean. He is unfailingly marvelous... so good that he makes the movie worth watching despite its significant flaws and Leo Minaya's much more heavy-handed and less believable performance as Morgan.