The wonderful Maryland Film Festival starts next Wednesday. Over the next few days, I'll be posting reviews of select titles from the event.
To those of us from Baltimore, it sometimes seems that Divine, the plus-sized “cinematic terrorist” with the double-stacked eyebrows, freakishly receding hairline, and bad-girl-on-a-bender attitude, emerged, fully formed, on our movie screens.
But, of course, Divine was just a character—his portrayer, Glenn Milstead, didn’t even see himself as a drag queen (although the world would never quite agree)—just an actor playing a particularly fabulous part.
In that sense, I Am Divine, Jeffrey Schwartz’s affectionate, lively, and appropriately ribald documentary about Divine, featuring great interviews with his friends, family, and admirers (including John Waters, Pat Moran, and The Village Voice’s Michael Musto) is best seen as an origin story.
We find out about Milstead’s childhood. He grew up closeted and confused in Baltimore. (His refuge from bullying at school was food, a lifelong compulsion.) He had a love of hair and makeup—when he and his high school girlfriend (...