Set in New Zealand in the summer of 1975, 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous is the story of 12 year-old Billy, who is about to discover that growing up is a lot more confusing than he could have ever imagined. He is a farmer's only son who is out of step with the other boys at his school. He feels they only want to fight and play rugby and while he tries to be the same, he feels he was never cut out to be a farmer or a rugby player. Instead, he prefers to dream about an imaginary life in outer space. In this world, a turnip paddock becomes a lunar landscape and a cow's tail a head of beautiful blonde hair which transforms him into "Lana" the heroine of his favorite TV show. With the arrival of Roy, the class freak, and Jamie the sexy young farm laborer Billy's world is changed forever. As he learns about his sexuality, everything he knows is called into question, including his lifelong loyalty to his best friend, tomboy Louise, whose world is changing alongside his. Set in New Zealand's ... Written by
Stewart Main's production is a coming-of-age story that bears little resemblance to other typical and predictable movies. 12 year-old Billy idly watches a TV show with his best friend, a rather tomboyish girl who excels at boys sports and acts a bit manly. Inspired by what he sees on TV, Billy wears a fake ponytail and pretends to be Lana, the heroine of the sci-fi series while Lou, the girl, poses as the male hero. They subvert traditional gender affiliated roles as part of a game, but they are also aware of a certain otherness, a certain counterpart that can exist only in private.
The figure of the double, largely described in fantastic literature, is usually developed when the main character fails to recognize his own-self, and starts experiencing a feeling of alienation. The double can adopt several forms, as for instance the form of the exact replica of the character, like in Dostoyevsky's "The double", or on the contrary, it can become the form of an absence of reflection in the mirror image, a horrifying 'presence' as in Maupassant's "Le Horla". Clearly Billy and his friend Lou find an ideal refugee in the form of fictional characters that supply that which they are lacking; Billy is a boy that wishes to be a girl, and Lou is a girl that wishes to be a boy.
In this scenario, two other characters will help develop the dynamic of the double. First of all is Roy, the new kid in the school, who soon becomes attracted to Billy. A most revealing moment takes place when Roy is picked on by kids that held him to the ground, as a consequence of all this roughhousing, the young boy exhibits an erection that soon makes the other lads lose interest in him. This moment is defined by the emergence of sexual excitation in Roy's penis, an irruption of the drive of the real in his body; such pulsations also exist in Billy who stays behind and accepts Roy's invitation to touch his "stiffy".
Do they experiment joy only through phallic exploration? The phallus has no image, the absence of representation in the visual field "signifies that in everything that is imaginary localization, the phallus appears in the form of a lack". As the days go by, Billy is not acquitted of guilt, but nonetheless he decides to join his friend Roy in a shack, wherein they mutually masturbate. But why does Billy seem uncomfortable after these sessions? Perhaps because if the phallus 'is characterized by a lack', then any image would only 'mask' that lack, evoking something which is absent, and in principle one can define that absence as something that pertains to our bodily existence in so far as what is missing in the virtual image is our real existence itself. In the same way Billy can never truly be Lana, from the TV show, he cannot envision his acts with Roy except in the darkness and secrecy of the shack. But what part of our anatomy permits the distinction between oneself and one's own image, including the multitude of others with whom we tend to identify? It is this distinction that seems to get distorted and somewhat effaced in the phenomenon of the double.
The second important character in the story is Jamie, a guy in his twenties. As soon as he enters into the scene, Billy seems to forget all about Roy. He now starts daydreaming about this guy, this strange adult that could eventually pay some attention to him. But before Billy can get closer to Jamie, he must first decide if he should adopt the male or the female position, which is basically the same decision Lou has to make. As the relationship with Roy deteriorates, new problems will arise. The double, again, could signal the coming of ominous events.
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