North Sea Texas
Recently, popular films about gay characters have started moving beyond the overarching plot about society's acceptance of sexual identity and the tricky navigability of a hetero-normative world to instead just tell stories about people who aren't straight. This is a good and commendable development, because didacticism sucks ass and kills stories, as clearly demonstrated by Ayn Rand. North Sea Texas immediately dispenses with the idea that the audience needs to learn some damn thing, and opens with a charming and funny sequence in which a six-year-old Pim dresses up in his mom's old beauty pageant sash and tiara and poses in front of the mirror. The teenage Pim, played by Jelle Florizoone, falls in love and has his first romantic experience—and his first big heartbreak—with the boy who lives next door. Pim's problems are small, individual, and completely universal: the escape and pleasure of artistic endeavor; connecting with another person at a deep, human level; and learning to accept the shortcomings of his mother, Yvette (Eva van der Gucht), the accordion-playing former beauty queen. Director Bavo Defurne fills the frame with warm, bright color and the lovely austerity of the Belgian seaside, angling for a soulful, slightly hyperreal comedy rather than the pursuit of a political agenda or a boring awareness-raising endeavor. Chris Packham
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