THEATRICAL REVIEW: Halifax filmmaker Fitzgerald’s Stage Mother a dazzling, delightful instant classic

If there’s one thing movie lovers have unequivocally yearned for in 2020, it’s escapism from the difficult world we face.

Stage Mother won’t cure all our problems, but the 93 minutes I spent with drag mom Jacki Weaver were some of the happiest of this calendar year.

To say Stage Mother is a glorious, remarkable, spectacularly splendid film is to not even scratch the surface. It’s a glittery, glitzy feast for the eyes, and the feel-good film of the year.

Jacki Weaver is, quite frankly, due for a third Oscar nomination as Conservative church choir director and bible belt resident Maybelline, who inherits her son’s drag bar after he overdoses and passes away.

The splendid transformation of this character is spellbinding to watch, and if she’s not in the discussion awards season, the Academy will no longer hold relevance for this critic.

The entire cast is delightful, from Weaver and Lucy Liu to relative newcomer Allister MacDonald, who’s affecting as drag queen Joan Of Arkansas. Watch for him in the future, because this multi-talented performer is destined for big things.

A second standout is Mya Taylor, best known for Tangerine. The transgender actress is absolutely fantastic here. If there is a weak spot in Stage Mother, sadly it’s Entourage alum Adrian Grenier. The part was initially set for Taye Diggs, who would have done a wonderful job, but credit to the actor for stepping outside his comfort zone. I never thought I’d see Vinnie Chase play a queer drag club owner, but I’ve been proven wrong. Here’s to hoping he takes more chances, and one of them pays off.

The visuals are stunning, in large part to the makeup work from Halifax icon Chris Cochrane, stage name Elle Noir. The costumes, wigs and aesthetic of this entire film pop, and bring the audience right into this big, beautiful drag world. After this wonderful effort, it would be unsurprising if Cochrane became sought after to make actors and actresses look their absolute best.

Director Thom Fitzgerald, with an absolutely adorable, engaging script from Brad Hennig, has created the most delightful film of the year. Like all his movies, he gets the best from his performers, and the film stands out for that reason.

This is an iconic gay film, full of quotable one-liners, and it’s an instant classic. Give Stage Mother a round of applause, because it’ll knock your wig right off.

5/5 Stars

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