Alice Júnior: the pursuit of trans joy

My instinct is to say that this queer coming-of-age film is nothing revolutionary; however, it seems that ー even in 2021 ー a film aimed at teenagers that revolves around trans joy is in fact just that.
Alice Júnior (Gil Baroni, 2019) tells the story of its title character, a vibrant 17-year-old trans girl who’s worried about getting her first kiss. The film’s journey begins when she moves from a fancy apartment in a high-rise building in Recife to the small conservative town of Araucárias do Sul. After incidents of cyberbullying at her new school, she no longer has an online refuge to escape to. Can she reclaim a place in her new life? And, crucially, will she get her first kiss? […]

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Wish You: a flawed but precious rom-com

Soft acoustic pop and passing cars lead into lingering glances across a sleeping city. Adoring fan Sang-i gazes longingly at street singer Kang In-su as he strums his way through a soppy ballad, the almost-title track “Wish For You”. Initial seeds of romance are planted within the first 2 minutes; yet, we are forced to wait with baited breath until the last 2 minutes to see whether the buds will blossom. This, of course, begs the question: how much do we really gain along the way? […]

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Boy Erased: a well-paced, engrossing drama

Home videos, car journeys and small town Americana vibes quickly move aside to reveal the harsh security and even harsher rules of one gay conversion therapy programme. Participants read out increasingly strict rules in an arresting first 10 minutes: “members must be supervised by staff in all restrooms visits”; “no physical contact with any member at any time apart from the briefest of handshakes.” I think this film might be a little more intense than But I’m A Cheerleader […]

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Donne-moi la main: mundane but also infinitely confusing

I watched this last weekend with some friends and I just had to find a way to process this clusterfuck of a movie. So here we go. Oh, and just to clarify, it’s not about incest …probably. Donne-moi la main, English translation: Give Me Your Hand, (Pascal-Alex Vincent, 2008) is a French-language film about a twin brothers’ journey across Europe. As they travel to the funeral of a mother they’ve never met, Antoine and Quentin confront their complicated sibling relationship, as well as perceptions of their own and each other’s desires.

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Dating Amber: queer solidarity at its purest

In 2020, it’s hard to believe that a film about a gay and a lesbian being each other’s beards (pretending to date each other so people think they’re straight) hadn’t been made. I suppose there was that one storyline on Glee… but still, here it is, finally, in full cinematic force. Of course, the main question is: does it live up to the hype? And the answer, of course, is complicated. Dating Amber (David Freyne, 2020) is a coming-of-age comedy set in oppressive 1990s Ireland. The story follows baby gay Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and baby lesbian Amber (Lola Petticrew), and their developing friendship as they pursue a pretend relationship. […]

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But I’m a Cheerleader: hilarious parody with a heart

Come one now. It’s a gay classic at this point. You’d think that a whimsical comedy about queer kids forced to attend conversion therapy camp wouldn’t work at all… but it so does. Let me tell you why. But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999) focuses around the story of Megan (Natasha Lyone), a timid 17-year-old coming to terms with her sexuality. At an intervention, her friends and family affront her with hilariously problematic lesbian stereotypes that she seems to follow, such as “being a vegetarian” and “liking Melissa Etheridge’s music”. They decide that she should be sent to “True Directions”, a gay conversion therapy camp that imposes 1950s-style gender roles on its unwilling teenage attendees.

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Love, Simon isn’t a queer film

“I’m just like you, I have a perfectly normal life” says our protagonist Simon, as the camera shows him outside his large house in the suburbs getting a 4×4 for his birthday. Ah yes, it is clear from this opening shot, or even from the trailer and a quick glance at the cast, that Love, Simon is a gay film made for a cis, straight, white, middle-class audience. Or at the very least made to be palatable to The Hetties™. That doesn’t make it a bad film, but it is glaringly apparent, even in the first two minutes of the film. Then again, as (self-proportedly) the first film by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teenage romance, it is a step in the white direction. I mean the right direction. Didn’t I say that? […]

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The Mudge Boy: oddly traumatic with no apparent purpose

Oof, this one hits you by surprise. But at the same time, you sort of know exactly what’s going to happen. Don’t worry, I’ll come back to this later on… The Mudge Boy (Michael Burke, 2003) tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan and his struggle to find himself and his people in non-descript rural America. We follow his emotional journey with one volatile town bully, Perry, as they move towards something akin to friendship, or maybe more…! (You know what this blog is about, right?) […]

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Handsome Devil: beautifully vulnerable in its sensitivity

If the success of Fleabag is anything to go by, Andrew Scott playing sexy Irish anything is guaranteed to be a hit. Before he was a sexy Irish priest in that hit TV show (that’s hit TV show, Nina), he was a sexy, Irish and even on-the-cusp-of-homoerotic teacher in Handsome Devil. Top Tip: Try not to get distracted by Andrew Scott’s beauty. Or his seductive Irish accent. Or his brooding eyes. What were we talking about?

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Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List: mostly inoffensive with a heavy dose of charm

Two minutes in and it’s already an assault on the senses: from scribbled scrapbookish title sequences, to waivering cameras, via both voiceovers and on-screen dialogue. Sis, it’s a lot. We get the film’s eponymous best friends: gay boy Ely and straight girl Naomi (a classic combo, let’s be real). A supposed central plot point is introduced: their ‘no kiss list’: a collection of boys they both fancy and are thus off limits’ And there begins a visual introduction to the world we’ll be living in for the next hour and a half: two perfectly quirky (and conveniently adjacent) young adult bedrooms in the heart of an idealised and colourful New York City. Okay, yes, it’s a lot for eyes and ears to deal with, but at least we can say for certain that the scene is set. […]

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