Although its gay coming-of-age theme is familiar by now, this debut by British director Simon Shore
is a sweetly affecting tale displaying a canny mixture of raucous comedy and sensitive drama.
A well-acted audience pleaser, this small-scale effort could find an appreciative Stateside audience when Paramount Classics releases it in the spring. Previously seen at the Sundance and Toronto fests, "Get Real" was recently showcased at the Miami Film Festival.
The film concerns the teenage angst of Steven Carter
), a 16-year-old attempting to get through high school, not an easy task when you're gay and your parents and friends don't know it. Steven has a crush on the school dreamboat, tall, good-looking athlete John Dixon (Brad Gorton
), who is the object of lust and adulation by the entire student body; one lovestruck girl describes him as "sex on legs."
Much to Steven's amazement, John, who has previously barely acknowledged Steven's existence, suddenly becomes quite friendly. After a series of awkward encounters in which his ambivalence over his sexuality is revealed, John eventually admits that he indeed returns Steven's affections. The two begin a freewheeling and secret affair, in which they become more and more reckless in their public displays of affection.
Becoming increasingly frustrated by the constraints of their secret relationship, Steven pens an anonymous essay for the school yearbook in which he details the problems of growing up gay. The school begins to buzz as to the identity of the essay's author, and when it comes time for Steven to address the entire school during the commencement, he takes the opportunity to come out.
Steven, who handles his gayness with self-assurance and a refreshing degree of humor, is one of the more unusual and appealing screen characters in quite a while. As beautifully played by the talented Silverstone, he's likely to win audience hearts.
The other character who truly shines is Steven Best
's friend Linda, a frank-speaking and tough girl who doesn't let her overweight status prevent her from enjoying life and who has a tart-tongued quip for every occasion. Charlotte Brittain
, delivering a hilarious performance in her screen debut, all but steals the film. Gorton delivers a sensitive portrayal as the sexually confused school hunk.
The film is not without its missteps, including a second act that becomes a repetitive series of near misses in which the teen lovers are nearly found out time and time again. And the climax is more than a bit heavy-handed, with Steven's coming out rather melodramatically treated as a momentous event. But mostly, "Get Real" sparkles with an utterly appealing low-key warmth and humor.
Director: Simon Shore
Screenplay: Patrick Wilde
Producer: Stephen Taylor
Executive producers: Anant Singh, Helena Spring
Director of photography: Alan Almond
Editor: Barrie Vince
Music: John Lunn
Steven Carter: Ben Silverstone
John Dixon: Brad Gorton
Linda: Charlotte Brittain
Jessica: Stacy A. Hart
Wendy: Kate McEnery
Mark: Patrick Nielson
Running time -- 110 minutes
No MPAA rating