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Review: LGBTQ Civil War indie ‘Union’ feels anything but unified

Whitney Hamilton in  “Union.”
Whitney Hamilton in the movie “Union.”
(Bill Schweikert / Indican Pictures)

“Union,” the second part of the purportedly true story of a woman taking her slain brother’s identity during the Civil War, will mystify those who haven’t seen the first part, “My Brother’s War.”

Confederate raider “Henry” is actually Grace dressed as a man. Somewhere, a widow named Virginia is pining for Henry/Grace. Henry/Grace escapes Union custody and marries Virginia, but is haunted by memories of another woman and her son.

The story keeps flashing back to events we don’t understand and characters we don’t know. The pacing is stilted, even bizarre. A woman tells a boy he’ll like Montana, where there are horses. Aren’t there horses everywhere in 1863? And why does everyone in the Civil War South seem cool with a lesbian marriage?

Virginia Newcomb is fine as recast love interest Virginia and Jimi Zhivago’s score is lovely, if overused. The ultra-low-budget film by writer-director-producer-executive producer-editor-star Whitney Hamilton is an expansion of her 2011 short; she served the same roles for its 2005 predecessor. Both films are based on her novel “Firefly.”

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Apparently, at least 400 women fought as men during the Civil War, but the perplexing “Union” is not the exploration they deserve.

'Union'
Not rated

Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Playing: Starts Aug. 2, Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood


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