Though films focussing on ‘coming out’ and ‘family reactions’ do appear a lot in Queer cinema, and at times one does wish everyone could just move past it, it is because it is a process that is constantly being faced by both those in and out of the Queer community. Whilst societies consciousness at large may be changing toward the LGBTI community and such issues as equal marriage, adoption rights, death rights, and so on -with many being played out and debated more and more in mainstream outlets- it is still something quite different to have a direct family member to put a face to the cause. It is this struggle of going from only hearing about or have a distant acquaintance with such an issue to being thrust into a position where you are expected to make a decision that will have real-life effect, and it is the build-up and consequences of one brothers decision that An Ordinary Family (Mike Akel) focuses on.
Seth (Greg Wise), having apparently tried for years to be what his family wanted and expected of him, eventually gave up, moved away, and started a relationship with William (Chad Anthony Miller). Yet a few years on the need for family approval and acceptance is still strong. Thus, summer finds Seth going back to Texas for the annual family vacation and bringing William with him. However it quickly becomes apparent that only his sister-in-law new that Seth was not only bringing William but that he was gay. Cue awkward family dinner, awkward family breakfast, awkward family conversations, etcetera.
With the father now deceased, the family patriarch is Thomas (Troy Schremmer), a Minister who not only disapproves of Seth’s “lifestyle choices” and doesn’t want William to be alone with his children, but also resents Seth for abandoning the family after their family died. It is this strained relationship that the film centres around as other family members slowly come to accept William. One such convert is Chris, who is married to Seth’s sister Sharon and has a habit of making the most inappropriate comments. Initially he not only denies that Seth is gay but then becomes worried that William will make a pass at him. However, as the week plays out, Chris and William end up bonding over various aspects of their lives.
Akel’s tight directing and strong ensemble cast make this film one of the better films that focuses on the issues still facing many individuals and families over coming out and everything attached to it.