When I was around eight-years-old my family lived in Detroit, Michigan, about ten minutes from the Windsor Tunnel to Canada. Living in such close proximity to a foreign country meant one thing, excellent television. It was there that I developed my love of subtitled movies, staying up into all hours of the night with a blanket wrapped around me, the volume turned down low, reading about the amazing lives of other people.
Unfortunately, many of the titles elude me and I’ve given up hope of seeing them again unless I start putting every foreign movie created in the last sixty years in my Netflix queue. Recently with the help of the Internet, I was able to find the title of one that I remembered fondly.
“The Hanging Garden” stars Chris Leavins as “Sweet William”, a homosexual man who has returned home for his older sister Rosemary’s wedding following a ten year absence. You can see the dysfunction in the family from the very beginning of the film, where a young Sweet William and his father are going over the different blooming times for plants in the garden, and William is being scolded for getting some of them wrong. Rosemary is seen running around the house, ripping her wedding gown, pretty much in bridal meltdown. Rosemary is marrying Fletcher, played by Joel Keller, who had a sexual encounter with Sweet William years before, which was part of the reason that Sweet William left.
Before he left, Sweet William either attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself in the garden, or gave it a great deal of thought (this is never fully discussed), because there is a version of himself, younger, fatter and unhappier, hanging dead in the garden.
It’s a quirky movie, it makes you both uncomfortable and happy at the same time. “The Hanging Garden” was one of the first films I saw that normalized homosexuality, and really does try to make the statement “It Gets Better”.