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Gísli Örn Garðarsson
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This is a beautiful film about a seventeen-year-old swimming champion who is sexually outed in high school, and rather than deny his gayness, admits it and then gets to work dealing with it. I saw this at a gay film festival under the name of "You'll Get Over It," but I gather it was originally shown on prime time television in France, where I hope it reached a broad audience. Bravo to the French, who seem to be the masters of all things regarding love and sensuality.
The lead character's name, Vincent Molina, is the also the name of the writer of the screenplay. I wonder how autobiographical this story is?
Generally, I wouldn't recommend that a young gay guy come out until he is free and on his own in the world, not living under the roof of his parents or still in repressive, dangerous high school. But then again, to follow such a recommendation would be to waste so many precious, significant years when the hormones are screaming and the participants are at the peak of their physical beauty. How many of us would love to have the chance to go back to those days and this time do them right? Sure, as this movie so well shows, coming out at such an early age is extremely difficult emotionally, socially, and physically, and to do so is definitely beyond the abilities of most. But to do so is also phenomenally empowering to those who manage it. The huge set-back and loss in status that seems to accompanying coming out is later revealed to be merely pulled backward in a SLINGSHOT, after which there is a letting go and a powerful projection forward that puts one far, far ahead in the game.
Vincent, the swimmer, has a lot to lose. He's a beloved athletic champion with adoring fans, he has a luscious girlfriend who loves him and with whom he is having sex, he has respectful teammates and a best friend, and parents for whom he is the apple of their eye. He also has a male sex partner on the sly, but even though Vincent's true nature is better known by the sex partner, that's about all that the sex partner knows or cares about, so the relationships that truly matter are with the others in Vicent's life who did not know about his true sexual orientation.
Despite the beauty and sensitivity of the film, and the story of the hero being a gay student instead of it being a misfit, what really keeps this from being a typical teenage coming out story is the masterful ability of the lead actor to express the complexity of the emotions via his use of the interplay of subtle facial expressions. A lot of the time he seems to be in a state of blank questioning, as if he were not sure what to do next, and that if he were going to proceed, it would have to be very cautiously. And yet, it is clear that from now on, he will only proceed genuinely--he was aware that previously he had been using a mask (and it was his only shame), but now he isn't sure how to dispense with the mask or what will compose his face now that the mask is gone, he only knows that he won't be able to use a mask any more. His every step would take him into unknown territory, and the actor genuinely expresses the reality of those insecurities and the feelings of hopes, fears, wishes, disappointments, hurts, promises, comfort-seeking, sexual interest, and more, all playing out a fascinating symphony across his face.
The movie is clear that the burden of self-identity rests clearly on the shoulders of the individual, but it also underscores the principle that helpmates will come out of the woodwork to support a genuine individual who is willing to be real. The losses are painful, but the gains bring an overriding joy that is beyond measure.
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