A spike-haired British photographer who’s been living and working in New York since he was 17 finds out his visa is going to run out in a couple of months. He has few options other than returning to Great Britain and starting the immigration process all over again. But there’s another way out, according to an immigration official. After closing her office door, she says, “I shouldn’t be telling you this. But if you’ve got a girlfriend, now is the time to marry her.”
The problem, as made quite clear in I Do, is that our photographer is gay. Marrying someone to get a green card is illegal. But he really, really wants to stay in the United States, so he rather easily convinces his gorgeous lesbian pal, recently dumped and kicked out by her lover, to marry him. She needs a new place to live anyway.
Soon after he weds Ali (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) in a nice civil ceremony that will surely solve his visa problems, gym-ripped Jack (David W. Ross) meets charming architect Mano (Maurice Compte), a Spanish-raised U.S. citizen (thanks to an American mother) who steals his heart. Although Jack wants to spend all his time with his new love, he knows the immigration authorities need to be convinced of the legitimacy of his marriage to Ali, or he’ll be booking a one-way ticket back to merry old England.
The implicit discrimination of immigration rules as they apply to those in same-sex relationships is the main premise of I Do, a contemporary drama directed by Glenn Gaylord that’s played out against a young careerists’ backdrop of modern New York restaurants, hip apartments and stylish photo shoots.
The screenplay, written by Ross, starts out promisingly enough. But Ross isn’t content with the formidable number of complications piled on Jack in the opening rounds of the film. He gets carried away with heaping more and more on the poor guy until the story loses its poignancy and turns into a trail of disasters.
It’s not just a fondness for New York that makes Jack want to stay in New York, where he came with his brother Peter following the death of their parents. Among the first calamities of the film is that Peter (Grant Bowler) is killed in a car accident, leaving behind pregnant wife Mya (Alicia Witt, channeling Julianne Moore) and her little daughter Tara (Jessica Brown). Jack knows he can’t replace Peter but he feels compelled to be a part of their lives.
This subplot might be Jack’s undoing as Tara, when she learns Jack has married Ali, pipes up, “But you like boys.” If she knows, then plenty of others know, including Ali’s former girlfriend and every guy Jack has ever flirted with over drinks at assorted trendy bars. And somebody might mention it to the U.S. Immigration Service, which will likely eliminate the pursuit of that ever-elusive green card. So no smooching with Mano in public. Not fair!
The performances are believable enough. Sigler’s huge, beautiful eyes give away her emotions more accurately than her words. That means the ensuing disasters and complications don’t come as surprises. Ross’ Jack spends a lot of time sitting on floors and futons looking mopey and downcast, staring at what is presumably the Hudson River while pondering his ever-diminishing options. Witt’s Mya is a fiery protector of her daughter who’s struggling to hold her life together. Although she welcomes Jack’s help, she resents that he’s there and Peter isn’t. And Mano is just too flawless to fit in with these emotional roller-coaster types.
The parade of increasingly traumatic events results in some glum goings-on, so viewers need to hold on to the film’s brighter moments. Extra credit goes to actor and publicist Mickey Cottrell, a 1962 graduate of Little Rock Catholic School for Boys, who plays Jack’s mentor Sam with just the right touch of elegant sophistication.
I Do 80 Cast: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Alicia Witt, Maurice Compte, David W. Ross, Mickey Cottrell, Grant Bowler Director: Glenn Gaylord Rating: unrated Running time: 91 minutes