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Ibrahim, a 14-year-old Moroccan boy, walks down a road in the outskirts of a big city alone and disoriented. Recently informed that he will be deported in two days, he packed his belongings and ran away. He is now alone with no place to go.
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8-years-old Oscar Madly became traumatized. Around the same time that his mother left their family (with Oscar firmly taking his dad's side), Oscar witnessed a gay hate crime at school that left the victim bloodied and permanently paralyzed. Ten years pass. Oscar, befriended by his talking hamster Buffy, wants to get into a special effects make-up school (using his friend Gemma as a model), and has come to realize his spiteful father's anti-social, immature short-comings. When Oscar meets co-worker Wilder at the hardware store, sexual feelings begin to stir but accompanied by severe stomach pains (the memory of the hate crime). A farewell costume party for Wilder brings Oscar's issues to a head, expressed sometimes in surreal terms.Written by
One of the best coming-of-age films you will ever see.
"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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