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Closet Monster
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33 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Just a note..

10/10
Author: keeperkeys from toronto
26 September 2016

Not a review, just wanted to point out that the person who gave a one- star review based on the lack of french-Canadian accents in this film..

... this is not a french-Canadian film. This is a film made by a Newfoundlander, set in Newfoundland, written in Toronto, and only has one character in the entire movie who is supposed to be french- Canadian. Giving one star based on your interpretation of an accent, when that's not even the accent most actors are portraying is really, really lame.

Personally, I truly enjoyed this film and it's twisted, dream-like format. The plot was semi autobiographical, and you can see the care and passion that everyone involved in the project put into it. Plus, who doesn't like a talking hamster?

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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

One of the best coming-of-age films you will ever see.

Author: jdesando from United States
11 October 2016

"I wasn't always this confident. Growing up as the awkward gay kid in a small town in Pennsylvania, you're constantly told, 'Don't be yourself, don't be proud of who you are.'" Carson Kressley

From fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) to Boyhood (2014), coming –of-age movies over the last 30 years or so have been richly diverse from fantasy to reality. Certainly, being oneself was top priority.

Closet Monster deftly bridges that variety, presenting the tale of queer Oscar (Jack Fulton as a boy, Connor Jessup as 18 years old), whose mom abandons him early in life and dad doesn't measure up in the sensitive category. This entertaining film is more like a bittersweet indie than a mainstream comedy and one of the best of its kind in years.

Along with some appropriate fantasy sequences and a talking hamster (voice of Isabella Rossellini), director/writer Stephen Dunn nonetheless gives us the feeling of reality. Oscar comes slowly to the realization that he's gay with a whole bunch of interest and concern our part. Jessup plays Oscar with such low-key humility and humanity that he makes us want to spend more than ninety minutes with him. I hope Jessup gets the acting recognition he deserves—he's that good.

So real seem Oscar's challenges, from coming on a murderous sex crime as a boy to kicking dad into the closet (nice touch) as a young man, that when we bid him goodbye at a living that will foster his artistic talents, we may well feel we have taken mom's place, or at least the hamster's, in watching him grow up.

The film is realistic but uncompromising as it allows him to be a boy outsider but also befriend an attractive girl, confide in a hamster, and confront his dad with a maturity that suits his perceptive, tough-minded persona. It's no coincidence that the tree house he occupies is a refuge from his dad's temper and a home for his eccentric companions, from the hamster to attractive male friend, Wilder (Aliocha Schneider), and therefore a home for his alternative life.

Even if you are uncertain you would like a gay-centered film, Closet Monster will make you see that a well, warmly-told story from any youth pv will be more exciting than any other mainstream romance you will have seen in a long time.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Evocative and Melancholic Drama

8/10
Author: bkrauser-81-311064 from United States
23 October 2016

Closet Monster is that rare first feature coming from an auteur with vision, clarity of thought and a voice unique enough to rise above the noise. Chances are few will see it; its limited appeal, not to mention limited release isn't likely to turn many heads. Yet for those who seek it, and more importantly, those who stumble on it years in the future, this movie is just enough to maybe fall in love with.

Even at a young age, Oscar (Jessup) didn't exactly have it easy. His parents divorced early on in a scene depicted as both turbulent and petulant. He boards largely with his father (Abrams), in a living situation that highly suggests some serious transgressions on the mother's (Kelly) part. What's worse is somewhere amid the memories of tree house building and playing vampire hunter, Oscar vividly remembers the beating and paralysis of a gay teenager from his school. Years later Oscar's worst kept secret is hidden from his father by his presumed interest in his photography model Gemma (Banzhaf) and a macabre fascination with monster makeup. That of course all changes and threatens to unravel with the arrival of Wilder (Schneider), whose wavy blonde hair and exotic accent appeals to the tortured Oscar.

Oscar's story might as well be an analog to every closeted teen, suffocating under the provincialism of their hometown, longing for an escape to the assumed gay utopias of New York, San Francisco or Miami Beach. The universality of his story is further hammered home by a host of tried and true storytelling techniques literalizing his journey. Oscar infers his conscience via his pet guinea pig Buffy (Rossellini) in order to process his complex emotions. Key images and plot points are amplified by hyperbole and forays into body horror and intellectual montage. In many ways Closet Monster invites comparisons to other fanta-fablest films like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) and Swiss Army Man (2016) especially when it comes to exploring emotionally salient themes.

Yet just like those films, Closet Monster occasionally undermines its themes in the service of artistic flourish. Director Stephen Dunn indulges in one too many moments of ponderous slow-motion and euphoric whimsy with the same film-school pretension that sunk similar films like Before I Disappear (2014). Yet when the movie pivots into its groove, it really does have a lot to say through Oscar's unique, granular life. Connor Jessup does an incredible job balancing a role that requires layers of alienation, tension and longing while also conveying outward vulnerability and priggishness. While I personally wish his relationship with his father had more complexity and objectivity than the average emotional abuse cliché, the film does leave things open for reconciliation.

Closet Monster is certainly not the definitive coming-out movie; I'm pretty sure The Way He Looks (2014) took that spot away from My Own Private Idaho (1991) quite some time ago. Yet as a evocative drama and melancholic piece of entertainment, it has the seriousness and caprice to stand on its own merits. And if it gives young kids like Oscar the courage to be themselves then I say it's all worth it.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

PTSD and Coming of Age and Out

8/10
Author: okletmereviewit from United States
23 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is an amazing tale of coming of age and coming to terms with ones own sexuality. This movie for being an Indie film portrays the inner dialogue and the inner turmoil of coming to terms with ones sexuality, as well as showing the hidden side of a broken home. The movie begins with young Oscar (Jack Fulton) and his father tucking him into bed and their nightly rituals of his father (Aaron Abrams) "giving him a dream".

In the next scene you see Oscar and mother (Joanne Kelly) and father giving him a present of a Hamster, and then his father declaring that Oscars mother is leaving them. You then see Oscar in his room with the hamster, who begins "talking" to Oscar (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and names herself "Buffy" (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) but the voice is an inner monologue that Oscar creates for the critter and is a comforting mechanism for him, as throughout the movie you gain the feeling that Oscar only has one friend, Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf).

The PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) comes in when while coming home from school one day, Oscar notices a group of kids bullying another student. He follows them to a secluded cemetery where they see them beating the kids and sodomizing him with a piece of re-bar. Later that night Oscar and his dad are watching the News coverage of the situation and Oscars asks his dad why they did that and the father said "because he was gay" and makes a side reference to Oscars long shaggy hair. To which Oscar being scared cuts his hair himself.

Skip forward: Now Oscar as a teen (Connor Jessup) is taking pictures of Gemma for his portfolio for admissions into college. We also see that the now 18yr old Oscar is now working in a general hardware store who is ran by Allison (Mary Walsh) who teaches him the basics of greeting customers and how to help them make selections, etc. After his shift while in the employee locker room a strapping young man named Wilder (Aliocha Schneider) checks his locker for his employee uniform and realizes that it is not there and asks to borrow Oscars shirt. This is the first time that we witness Oscar's sexual preference, when Wilder takes off his shirt and puts on Oscars shirt. Oscar longingly looks at the finely toned body of Wilder.

Later the next day Wilder gives Oscar his shirt back before work, and says thanks. You then see Oscar smelling the shirt to see if it was "ok" to wear. And then he rushes into the restroom with the shirt and begins touching himself and fantasizing about Wilder, and then has a flash of the students sodomizing that other student when he was a kid.

Slowly Oscar and Wilder begin a friendship and get closer. As Oscar and Gemma seem to grow apart. Things at home take a turn for the worse as Oscars father begins seeing a woman, and Oscar becomes more frustrated with himself, work, life and everything between. It finally escalates into a fight with his father that leaves Oscar physically assaulting his dad, and running away to a party that Wilder had invited him to.

At the party he finds Wilder and his friends, and they take Oscar to a room and put together a costume for him to wear for the party. Wilders friends take some Ecstasy and begin to really party it up. Gemma runs into Oscar and realizes that he is high and Oscar excuses himself as he notices that Wilder is talking to some girls. A guy approaches Oscar and begins hitting on him, and Oscar who was holding out for Wilder notices that he is kissing a girl. So Oscar and the guy make their way into the bathroom where they begin to kiss and have sex. In the midst of it Oscar begins to have flash backs of the beaten boy in the cemetery and freaks out, vomits and passes out.

We then see Wilder waking him up and helping him home. Oscar and Wilder spend the night together in Oscars tree house. Oscar and Wilder begin talking about the escapades of the night and things turn to sexuality when Oscar mistakes Wilders reaching for a bottle of water as him wanting to kiss. Embarrassed, Oscar asks him to leave, and they begin to talk about it, and then Wilder kisses him. In the morning you see Oscar wake up and find a note from Wilder basically saying "See you later gotta run" and you are not sure if the two had slept together or not. Oscar sneaks back into his room only to find that everything had been destroyed by his father.

The next scene you see his mother and father fighting as Oscar is looking through whats left of his possessions that are scattered throughout the drive way. Oscar sees his beloved Buffy laying dead in her cage. Enraged by this, Oscar comes to terms with his sexuality and breaks something of his fathers and then moves in with his mother. The movie ends with Oscar moving to a small house near the beach. Leaving you wondering how much time had passed or if he was in a school or what was going on.

But throughout the whole of the movie. The sexuality is done in a very muted and respectable manner. There is some cussing and things like that but over all very tastefully done. If you are a lover of coming to age films or films dealing with the nature of coming out, then you are sure to love this movie.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

The perfect coming of age story.

7/10
Author: subxerogravity from United States
18 October 2016

Yes! It's definitely one of your better coming of age stories.

Oscar is a kid dealing with his parents divorce living with his possessive father who manliness clashes with Oscars's artistic side and then there is the fact that he's allowing his sexually to approach the surface. He deals with it by having a close relationship with his hamster, Buffy.

It's a cliché seen in a lot of movies but done so naturally in this one that it does not seem like one at all.

Plus I was surprisingly entertained by the whole movie.

Wonderful character development. I just like all the supporting character's relationship with the main one.

I cant think of another great or greater example of a teen going through growing pains.

Take a look.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Amusing, Interesting Coming of Age Tale from Canada

7/10
Author: Tom Dooley from London, United Kingdom
19 October 2016

This is a gay based drama about a boy, Oscar (played as a grown up by Connor Jessup of 'Falling Skies' fame). He has had a childhood that few would be envious of. We see some of that childhood and then move on to when he is all grown up and longing to leave his hometown and go to art school – preferably in New York.

He is a creative and gifted soul who has a best friend in Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf who I love as she was in a 'Belle and Sebastian' video; the stupendous Scottish band)– he also talks to his hamster who is more than happy to reciprocate. He has got to the age where he no longer knows where the boundaries are or moreover he no longer agrees with them in any case. He is also trying to cope with his burgeoning sexuality and the attitudes of orthodox heterosexuality and casual and actual homophobia that have plagued him since boyhood.

Now this is a film where the themes are more universal and the parents and home issues are also ones that many will empathise with. Jessup plays the role really well and is completely convincing, but he is ably supported, especially from Aaron Abrams ('Hannibal') playing his father; that said all players here are up to muster. It is also a charming film and steers clear of the sensational side of drama to keep both feet as firmly as possible in the realms of reality (talking hamster aside that is); which I very much appreciated. This is a thoughtful, well made, acted, directed and scripted film with enough going on to keep you hooked and some good, every day humour to show its human side – so very much recommended.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Another boring millennial "coming of age" flick, deserves less than a 5

5/10
Author: Toe Cutter (toecutter0)
25 November 2016

Another coming of age film for the modern generation that leaves a million unanswered questions and at times is simply confusing. The transitions from the imaginary to real world interaction aren't very well-defined and the characters are simply boring. The 7+ score drew me into watching, but both the wife and I were left disappointed as so many questions were left unanswered. The gratuitous scene towards the end I assume was meant as a metaphor for something, but it failed to make any sense at all. I often wonder if movies like this reflect how America is changing or if filmmakers are simply to lazy to write a decent story. A generous 5 out of 10.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Well shot film with some flaws

5/10
Author: kthompson-72577
20 October 2016

There are some great qualities of this film: The soundtrack is amazing, the cinematography is great, and there are some interesting and unique themes. However I was mostly disappointing with the film.

The main character, Oscar, is not particularly likable. He retains the "angsty teen" stereotype without many redeeming qualities to combat it; lots of whining, complaining, etc.

On top of this, the storyline is a bit all over the place. There are so many different subplots going on all at once, and they don't exactly mesh together very well. Lots of scenes happen metaphorically, but are displayed literally. In some ways this is very successful, but some it feels either confusing, or too obvious.

Overall I wouldn't necessarily suggest this movie, but I did enjoy some moments (the party scene was great).

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One thing one can't say about this movie is that it's typical.

7/10
Author: Seth_Rogue_One from Edinbruhhh
19 January 2017

A pretty unique film, which is rarely seen in films these days.

I can't say too much about the film because it's sort of a mystery, wrapped around a coming of age drama story with some horror elements here and there to spice things up and on top of all that add on a talking hamster.

If I was to compare it with some other movies I would say something like a mix of Mysterious Skin meets The Perks Of Being A Wallflower meets Donnie Darko, now while it isn't as great as those said films it isn't too far off either, it is a competent piece of filmmaking by it's own merit.

And well acted all across the board.

Might bump the rating up on the rewatch but we will see, 7 is still a solid rating coming from me.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not For Me

2/10
Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
10 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although this movie has been acclaimed by many, I really struggled to find much to like here. The film was just too bizarre, mean spirited, and disjointed for my tastes.

The main character Oscar (Connor Jessup) was traumatized as a child by his parents divorce and witnessing a vile hate crime against a gay older student in his school. Now Oscar is a teen who has become a talented makeup artist and photographer, and who is struggling with his own sexual identity. Unfortunately, he's living with his vile and homophobic father (Aaron Abrams) and the strained relationship between the two will eventually reach critical mass.

This movie will often break into fantasy segments, including Oscar's conversations with his pet hamster Buffy (the voice of Isabella Rossellini--yes Isabella Rossellini!). To note, there's one scene of nudity, a rather explicit gay sex scene in a bathroom, and some drug usage portrayed. Writer and director Stephen Dunn makes his feature film debut here.

Overall, although the central theme here is laudable, I just couldn't buy into the way it was presented. The customary 180's near the end enhanced the movie but it was too little too late, in my opinion.

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