MiniReview: "The Seminarian" (film)

Would it be mean to say that the poster is better than the film? Yes, it would. But the poster is VERY enticing, don't you think?


What is it?

A 2010 American independent film directed by Joshua Lim.


What’s it about?

Ryan, a closeted gay student at a California theological college, writes his thesis for Yale on the subject of love, as he navigates his way through a series of disappointing, fragmentary, and unrequited relationships in his search for love in his own life.


Is it about the conflict between Christian teachings and homosexuality?

In part, yes. At the college, gay students are encouraged to keep their sexuality to themselves, and most students don’t know who, among their peers, is gay. There’s a scene where the main character comes out to a female friend, and it doesn’t go really well. There are many scenes in LGBT cinema where a male gay character comes out to a female friend, and usually it’s a positive experience. It was kind of refreshing to see a different truth revealed, that coming out to one’s peers doesn’t always produce the desired result.


But this isn’t a film about gay students getting beaten up by Christians?

No, not at all. This is a prestigious-looking college, with “well-bred” kids in attendance, so they’re all pretty well behaved. The prejudice is more subtly expressed. But it’s not, first and foremost, a film about gays being repressed.


So is the focus more on the search for individual love?

Mostly, yes. The most interesting thing in the film, for me, was that this search is seen through a Christian lens, as Ryan struggles to understand how a loving God can make people suffer for love (even straights!). The philosophy isn’t terribly deep here, but it’s a somewhat unusual perspective in an LGBT film. It provided a refreshing change of pace.


So, overall, how did it all hold up?

It’s an interesting film. The main actor, Mark Cirillo, has a wonderfully expressive face, and there are lots of long shots of him thinking, which was just fine with me! Some of the other actors are a bit weak, and the writing is sometimes routine. It’s an entertaining film, but nothing really exceptional.



No. I like this film, but it doesn’t ultimately say anything new or in a radically different way. Its heart is definitely in the right place, though. One for a rainy day.

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