Review: “The Gospel of Eureka” Shows Where LGBTQ and Christian America Meet

Written by | Entertainment, Screen

A Drag Queen from Eureka

Image Courtesy Kino Lorber

In “The Gospel of Eureka”, documentarians show us a town shared by the passionately Christian and the proudly gay.

A Deeply Divided America Meets in Eureka

These days America’s deep divisions are on everyone’s mind, so it’s nice to see a documentary like this one. It reminds us that on both sides, most Americans are just tacky, ridiculous, salt of the earth folk.

Who better to narrate this undeniable truth than Mx Justin Vivian Bond? Bond’s sweet and salty southern tones seem to float over the misty town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas like warm rain.

What makes Eureka such a one-of-a-kind Ozarks oasis is the town’s surprising mix of Christian piety and queer community. One of the town’s main attractions is a massive statue of Jesus and an amphitheater where they perform a nightly passion play. Meanwhile, downtown there is a big gay bar, where leathery-skinned drag queens holler for tourist’s dollars. Its owners jokingly refer to it as a real “hillbilly Studio 54”.

The Passion of the Left and Right

Ultimately, each of the shows acts like a kind of communion, though one has more booze and fewer virgins. The mash-up of the passion of Christ with the screams of drag queens is the film’s best trick. It displays the ‘queer’ similarity between the two, despite their obvious differences.

The film plays the same game with the colorful local folk whom documentarians Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher capture on camera. Compare the guy who plays Christ with the old gay couple who own the bar. Meet the the Christian t-shirt designer who seeks to identify with his dead gay father. Note how a trans woman and her loving husband are indistinguishable from anyone in the crowd waiting to see Jesus finally come down off of his cross.

THE WORD: Ultimately, what could be a story of division ends up offering a heart-warming dose of all-American optimism.

THE WHERE: The Gospel of Eureka is slated to open in New York on February 8 and in Los Angeles on March 8.

Check out the trailer for The Gospel of Eureka here:

Interested in more queer-themed cinema? Check out the French, May-December, gay romance, Sorry Angel.

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Last modified: February 7, 2019

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