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BFI Flare Film Review: Jonathan Groff in ‘C.O.G.’

By Ben Kelly


is the first film adaptation to be made from the works of popular American comedian and writer David Sedaris. Originally published in his collection of essays Naked, this tells the story of how Sedaris, as a young Yale graduate, spent a summer on an Orgeon apple farm in an attempt to go off the grid, and learn something about the real world.

Enter our current favourite twenty-something-guy-who’s-not-sure-how-to-be-gay, Jonathan Groff (Glee, Looking). He plays a cocky, bookish young man who is effectively going on a kind of blue collar safari, to see how the other half live, and in the process, realises why working life and devout religion are bound together, in a way he can only understand through indulging completely in it.

04537_MLNA_COG_1400x2100Screened as part of the new BFI Flare LGBT film festival, C.O.G. is a coming of age piece with a difference. It’s intelligent, witty and complex. Our leading man’s sexuality is not dealt with traditionally – the closest he gets to a romance (with oddly hunky House Of Cards star Corey Stoll) turns unsettling, and even dangerous; and the people he comes to know as loving ‘children of God’ (the acronym of the title) turn against him when they catch an inkling of his sexuality. A row with his parents – seemingly after coming out – underpins the whole story.

The screenplay is adapted and subsequently directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who – using Groff as a medium – manages to maintain the personal connection readers have had with Sedaris for decades. It doesn’t harm proceedings that Groff is considerably more attractive too. It’s another step on his rise to being the best young gay actor in Hollywood, and a door opened for adaptations of Sedaris’ wealth of work.

Our rating: 5/5

C.O.G. is available on DVD now, and screens again at the BFI on Wednesday 26th (stand by tickets still available). For the full festival programming visit