'Deep Run': Film Review

Deep Run Film Still - H 2015
Deep Run Film

Deep Run Film Still - H 2015

A sweet, admiring profile of a teen in transition.

Deep Run, North Carolina, isn't the easiest place to be gay.

An intimate look at what it's like to come out not once but twice in the Bible-steeped South, Hillevi Loven's Deep Run introduces a lesbian teen in North Carolina and observes as she gets comfortable with identifying herself as a man. Access and timeliness make up for technical crudeness to some extent here, especially given the likeability of young Cole Ray DavisSusan Sarandon's presence as exec-producer will help attract attention at fests and on video.

Cole was born Jasmine, but happily went by the nickname "Spazz" during high school, serving as a spirited baseball mascot and enduring the teasing — and sometimes more — that comes with being gay in a small town. Her Baptist youth group seems to have made a kind of peace with the fact that she has a girlfriend, but when that girlfriend joins a less accepting church, the couple breaks up.

In an episode Loven deals with too glancingly, Jasmine says she was on the verge of suicide at this point, when attention from another friend named Ashley, stopped her. Soon the two are a couple, and Jasmine begins identifying as Cole. After graduation, they move in together.

Loven watches sympathetically as Cole and Ashley struggle with economic hardships and intolerance from family members and the community. The threat of being outed at church, where the pastor believes Cole is "a nice respectable young man," is especially trying, as the two take their faith very seriously and have little trouble maintaining an inclusive vision of Christianity despite what they've been taught. Things start to look tough in the doc's second half, as the practical realities of grown-up life pile on top of some already considerable stresses. But in its admiring account of Cole's perseverance, Deep Run remains both optimistic and sweet.

Director: Hillevi Loven
Producers: Samara Levenstein, Chris Talbott
Executive producer: Susan Sarandon
Director of photography: Arrianne Le Penne
Editor: Kristen Nutile
Music: Phillip Roebuck

No rating, 73 minutes