Monday, December 31, 2007

Teenage Pain

The film, Get Real, paints a realistic, and bleak picture of growing up gay in high school. Steven knows he's gay, and he's bullied in his school because classmates perceive he is gay. No place is safe for him, at school or at home. The plot is predictable, but in its complications, Stephen eventually ends us in a sexual romance with one of his classmates, a popular athlete, John. The film has a great sense of the teenage experience, its angst, desperate love, fear of discovery, and violence.

More than that, the film feels realistic. It has the usual stock characters (the bully, the understanding Mom, and the flipped out Dad, the fat girl next door), but the two main characters are played for real. I remember being in the adolescent closet, navigating through a hostile time and place. I remember hiding behind a personality that wasn't really me. The film portrayed those feelings in a nuanced and truthful way.

Being a gay adolescent means being stigmatized. The film captures the (violent) closet, the ostracism, and the head-over-heels delight of teenage star-crossed love.