Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Affecting interview content builds into a sweet picture of two young people who briefly seemed to have the world at their feet."

Shane Bitney Crone was a smalltown boy from the US Mid-West whose dreams came true when he moved to California and met the man of his dreams. Shy by nature, he would never have imagined that someone as glamorous as Tom - an actor, model, filmmaker and musician with all-American good looks, who charmed everyone he met - would fall for him. The smitten couple were adored by their friends, who said they were just made for each other. But they didn't want to marry - not then. That is, they felt a civil partnership just wasn't the real thing. They wanted to wait until the law changed and they could have a real wedding.

Then Tom fell off a roof and died.

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The suffering Shane experienced afterwards, compounded by cruelties that started with him not being allowed to see Tom in hospital and ended with him being denied access to the funeral, forms the core of this earnest documentary, a very personal take on issues that affect millions of gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans. With Crone among the producers it's overindulgent and lacks the acuity that might have made its message hit home harder. Nevertheless, affecting interview content builds into a sweet picture of two young people who briefly seemed to have the world at their feet, and later events, if clumsily explicated, will still leave viewers with the intended sense of dismay.

In some ways, the amateurishness of this film is a strength. It makes clear that we are dealing with people and there's a sense that Shane remains that out-of-his-depth backwoods kid, just trying to tell his tale as best he can. It also makes clear, when set aside clips from their video blog, that Tom had the more noteworthy talent, emphasising how much has been lost. There's little here that is overtly political. Shane doesn't seem the type. As such it neatly illustrates how politics affects ordinary people, people usually far beneath the radar as debate rages in State and Congress.

It won't wow you, but Bridegroom has a voice that deserves to be heard, and it's an affectionate tribute to a lost loved one.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2013
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A documentary about a young man whose life is turned upside down when his partner dies

Director: Linda Bloodworth-Thomason

Starring: Shane Bitney-Crone, Tom Bridegroom

Year: 2012

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: US

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