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Review: LGBTQ residents coexist with devout Christians in documentary ‘The Gospel of Eureka’

Review: LGBTQ residents coexist with devout Christians in documentary ‘The Gospel of Eureka’
A scene from the documentary "The Gospel of Eureka." (Kino Lorber)

There’s much to explore and dissect about the intriguing world that directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher spotlight in their documentary “The Gospel of Eureka,” but the film, strangely flabby at just 73 minutes, leaves us wanting.

With minimal sense of structure, focus or rhythm, the filmmakers turn their cameras on small, uniquely progressive Eureka Springs, Ark., where its many LGBTQ residents ostensibly — and importantly — live out and proud alongside their devoutly Christian, heterosexual neighbors.

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How that commingling exactly works is more anecdotal than detailed — though, as depicted, things seem genial enough. Still, does the intolerant truck driver interviewed here who opposes a citywide non-discrimination ordinance speak for more locals than it may appear?

We could also learn more about the burg’s history and layout as well as what it was like growing up queer in Eureka Springs; there are surely some stories to tell. In addition, past AIDS deaths are mentioned but barely contextualized. As for the transgender woman and her husband seen throughout — what’s their day-to-day life actually like?

The nominal “stars” of the movie, devoted husbands Lee and Walter, run Eureka Live Underground, a gay bar they dub a “hillbilly Studio 54.” Inordinate time is spent intercutting the club’s camp-Gospel drag show with an amphitheater performance of the town’s stage attraction, “The Great Passion Play,” a Jesus-centric epic that’s hopefully more impressive live than as filmed.

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‘The Gospel of Eureka’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 13 minutes

Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Glendale

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