This one goes out to the gay boys.
I know we all love our formulas. I get it. But, please, can we put a hold on the “First love,” and “Coming Out” stories? I mean, I’ve seen dozens of these films, and I’ve been sick of them for years. These formulas should have a five year moratorium, especially if you’re not going to add much to the story.
The best offender of these is the delightful Handsome Devil in which a skinny ginger is trapped in a boarding school where all they care about is rugby. Of course, the skinny ginger is gay and cares more about the arts than rugby, and that’s why he’s bullied. Even though he initially has his own room at the beginning of the year, his whole life changes when both a new rugger student moves into his room, and a new young English teacher comes in to pull a Dead Poets Society. The English teacher has the two boys team up to play a duet for a talent show, and we can kind of tell where this is going.
John Butler’s direction keeps things light and breezy while his script actually has a couple welcome twists up its sleeve. Sadly, the whole endeavor is marred by a persistent voice-over used as a crutch to keep the plot moving along and also to explain and emphasize every important plot point. Beyond that, I have no idea when this movie is set. They discover an old dusty room with vinyl records, including Madonna, and yet there is no internet or cell phones and Rufus Wainwright blares over the soundtrack. Butler is trying to make a movie out of time, but he does it because he’s too lazy to deal with technological complications. In the end, it’s a light and cute crowd pleaser for people who just want to see gay stories on screen without thinking about them too much.
The most popular formulaic offender is
Brokeback Mountain 2…er…God’s Own Country. This Irish film has a young gay sheep farmer drinking himself to death because he can’t accept his own homosexuality. So, he occasionally fucks random strangers while he’s delivering cows to a market. And then a foreigner comes in to help with herding sheep and they have rampant dirty sex in the field covered in sheep poop. So, if that’s your thing. Unlike Brokeback Mountain, God’s Own Country only spans about a year, and aims for the crowd pleasing formula. Given that the main character is an unlikable stupid jerk (even if he does have a big dick), I don’t see why anybody would fall in love with him. And the whole film is shot with that grey-blue filter of realness because gay sheep farmers are srs bsnss. People love their difficult romances with fix-em-up characters, and they totally liked this one for some reason.
The most original of these is Beach Rats, whose poster totally rips off Magic Mike. Set in America, these three lazy Brooklyn douchebags are addicted to pot and will do anything to get it, including stealing from their mom. But, the main character is secretly gay and trying to hide it. Unlike the other two movies, Beach Rats has the internet and the kid goes on a local webcam site to hookup with older dudes for weed. Oh, and there’s a father dying of cancer and a girlfriend who gets treated badly. None of it makes much emotional or logical sense, and the whole movie feels like a fantasy concocted by the female writer-director who may or may not be getting vengeance on her ex-boyfriend for treating her like shit. This film has the most eye candy of the three, though no full frontal male nudity (we do get full frontal female nudity in a gay film, so there’s that).