There are plenty of movies out there that explores coming out stories. LGBT cinema thrives upon it and uses it as the backbone for it’s film. Crafting an intimate tell of finding belonging and home, LGBT cinema crucial showcases self-discovery with queer teens and adults in hopes that many would find solace in their films.
After all, coming out or realising you are gay is a hefty event. Whilst we’d all like to pretend that the world is full of sunshine and happiness, the truth is that coming out is still dangerous and we live in a world where homosexuality is deemed as crime enough to be killed for. Even in our Western cultures.
So Closet Monster is terrific, beguiling, and bizarre take on a teenage boy realising that he is gay. Directed and written by Stephen Dunn, it may be the most visually haunting and unusual LGBT coming of age story yet. The film revolves around Oscar, a young boy whose parents split up when he was young. Trying to navigate the world with his bitter father, Oscar stumbles upon a homophobic attack which left a young boy dead. Haunted by those images, and helped by the wisdom of his talking hamster Buffy, Oscar grows up into a disillusioned teen and soon is awakened when he falls for a young man he works for.
The greatest treasure that Closet Monster has is lead Connor Jessup. That’s not to say that the rest of the movie is bad it’s just, Jessup is a very, very actor special actor. Despite a lot of faults that Oscar has such as his hot-headedness and temper (though, it’s clear an aftershock of his parents separation and need to yell at one another,) you cannot help but warm to his awakening and his becoming. Innocent, sloppy, brave, and beautiful, Jessup wraps it all up into the wide-eyed dreamer of Oscar. It’s a glorious acting performance that spectacularly showcases his ferocious talent because every beat is encompassed in stirring, pure, emotion.
Dunn’s film teeters on the weirder side of moviedom with occasional dreamlike sequences that perforate his life. Some of these moments are drenched with higher meaning: The constant barrage of sickening memories such as the murdered boy whenever he explores his sexuality hold a higher purpose within the narrative. People often forget that when you grow up in a society that is homophobic to it’s roots, whether it’s an attack or your Dad saying “why don’t you cut your hair because it being long makes you look like a fag?”, the infiltrate your impressions of the world – pushes you to make that construct in your mind. Which is why gay narratives such as this are important because it makes those believing that they are wrong and evil realise they are part of a journey of love and greatness.
Sometimes, such as Buffy, they are explained and meaningless yet still never teeters the movie ship of it’s course. Dunn’s work is a great exercise in emotional exploration and coming of age – weird stuff and all.
Closet Monster is available now!