After ten years of absence and no contact with his family, Sweet Williams (Chris Leavins) returns to his roots in Nova Scotia to be there for his sister’s wedding. The reason why the young man left home so early? He was a closeted homosexual and was caught by his grandmother, Grace (Joan Orenstein) in an intimate moment with his bisexual friend, Fletcher (Joel Keller). His family was abusive to begin with, and they did not understand or support the teenager at all after discovering his secret. On the contrary, they chastised him and shamed him to the point where young Sweet Williams wanted to hang himself from a tree in their garden. Fortunately, he eventually decided to leave home instead and make it on his own, becoming a well-adjusted, productive person.
All of his progress goes down the drain as soon as he returns to his family. His sister, Rosemary (Kerry Fox) is now marrying his childhood friend, Fletcher. His alcoholic, violent father, Whiskey Mac (Peter MacNeill), has not changed at all. Although kind at heart and willing to work on their relationship, Sweet Williams is unable to reconcile with his unloving parent. Moreover, all of the memories of his troubled childhood come back with a vengeance, driving the young man insane. He also meets a new family member, Violet (Christine Dunsworth), who turns out to be his daughter. She is the offspring of a forced sexual encounter with a prostitute that Sweet Williams’ mother, Iris (Seanna McKenna), coerced him into in order to “cure” his homosexuality.
“The heart of the movie is its insight into the way families are haunted by their own history. How the memory of early unhappiness colors later relationships.”
— Roger Ebert
Did You Know?
The Hanging Garden is Thom Fitzgerald’s debut as a producer, writer and director. Getting the movie on screen was no easy task, after the script was rejected by the Canada Council for the Arts for containing homophobic elements. Fitzgerald took his writing to a series of film festivals and crashed several parties in order to get in touch with some of the producers and the movie’s sponsors. The motion picture also includes a cameo appearance by Ashley MacIsaac. Review our Gay Themed Films Here