November 24, 2009

Movie Review #2: Get Real

[Ed. Note: Every other Tuesday, Ari will be reviewing gay-themed movies. No, not those kind (ask him in person for those reviews). I swear by his judgment in films, and you should too :) ]

During my coming out process in high school, I was guilty of popping in a movie from time to time in order to watch a film that showed how other gay teenagers worked through their angst, confusion, fear and all of those other crazy feelings that compounded themselves into a single thought. Get Real was definitely one of those films that were able to embody that dramatic confusion in a gay adolescent’s life that helped me understand that I wasn’t alone (I also happen to be a sucker for films that include a high school jock, can you say husband material?).

The film, directed and written by Patrick Wilde, was an official selection at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and plays off of the high school roles that tend to characterize and divide us while we play that petty game called the “high school experience”. The story revolves around a boyish teenager, Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone), who has known he was gay since he was 11 years old and continues to be harassed by the high school athletes for his more flamboyant attributes. Although Steven is comfortable with his sexuality, he isn’t sure that his parents and peers would be, and so the only person he tells is his best friend Linda (Charlotte Britain). One day after school, Steven has a run in with John Dixon (Brad Gorton) the high school all-star (isn’t it funny how it always works out that way? It’s never the ordinary jock, it’s always THE star athlete) and pursues a sexual tryst that turns into a relationship hidden from the public.

Perhaps not all of us have herded sheep with our unexpected lover on the mountainside a la Brokeback Mountain (not to say that it isn’t a dream of mine), and Get Real understands the realistic and everyday hardships of being a closeted gay teenager in high school, whether that person is in the spotlight or cast aside as a mere outlier. The story, however, allows us to see how those who were once thought of as insignificant can rise above the social sphere to make a difference in the levels of acceptance we hope to gain from our parents, teachers, administration, etc. During a time when people are at the mercy of their parents’ will, it’s interesting to see how teenagers can become the voice of reason to the adults in their lives.

Get Real is a terrific movie that relies on its humor to avoid victimizing the main character for pity, and instead celebrates the courage of one boy and his impact on an entire community. The best character by far is Linda; her quick wit and frumpy demeanor elicits the most hilarity and her role as a fruit fly (synonymous for another commonly used phrase in the gay community) is truly unparalleled by anyone else in gay cinema. This movie should be watched by anyone coping with the coming out process, or just hoping to look back on those perplexing years with a laugh or five. A-

1 comment:

  1. great review, ari! "get real" truly is a fantastic film...and i may have more than a slight crush on ben. my god that breathy british accent of his is GLORIOUS.

    but seriously, if anyone out there hasn't seen this movie yet, they must rent it immediately!