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Review: 'Bridegroom' a poignant tale of gay partner's loss

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The documentary "Bridegroom," written and directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (of "Designing Women" fame), is a poignant, powerful tale of first love and untimely death as well as a practical, frankly undeniable, plea for marriage equality.

Inspired by Shane Bitney Crone's widely seen YouTube video tribute to his late lover Thomas Bridegroom (could that last name be any more serendipitous?), Bloodworth-Thomason deftly tells the absorbing story of Shane and Tom: their red state upbringings (and much of what that may imply), their meeting as young men who'd both moved to Los Angeles, an enviable romance and business partnership, and the circumstances and aftermath of then-29-year-old Tom's fluky, fatal fall in 2011 from a Los Feliz rooftop.

The film includes intimate clips from Crone's video diaries; warm interviews with Crone, his supportive family members and friends; and an abundance of home video footage of the sensitive Crone and ebullient Bridegroom. All that helps paint a vivid, affecting portrait of the two men — both individually and as a deeply devoted couple.

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But because the pair's life commitment did not include a legal marriage (they vowed to wed once same-sex matrimony became recognized again in California), Crone was denied access to his dying partner's hospital room, which is harrowingly recounted — as is how Bridegroom's hostile, homophobic father and conflicted mother barred Crone from the funeral.

Despite the pain, sadness and vast emotional upheaval depicted here, "Bridegroom" is also a movie filled with hope and passion, dignity and pride, and many stirring pockets of joy.

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"Bridegroom"

MPAA rating: R for some language.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Saturday and Sunday mornings only at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica and Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.

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