The LGBT appreciation continues with the review of not just one of my favorite LGBT movies, but one of my favorite movies PERIOD of all time- Beautiful Thing.
Talk about a film before it’s time!
I discovered this movie back in 2006. As a gay teen with little places to find representation (let alone a sign of hope), this film REALLY left a stamp on my soul that maybe things don’t have to be so bad!
Following Ste (Scott Neal) a stern teen with an abusive father and brother along with Jaime (Glen Berry) his next door neighbor with a rocky mother-son relationship of his own, we have the first (and only?) gay teen romance movie!
There are no negatives! I just want to take the time to highlight what made this film such a timeless icon.
Not Another Gay Tragedy: When it comes to gay representation we are usually given the gay comic relief or the story of the gay tragedy. The latter has not been in short supply when it comes to gay stories about homosexual males. We have Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name, Philadelphia, The Normal Heart, Before Night Falls and the list goes ON.
Though these two young men have real struggles in their coming of age, aside from their sexuality, this is NOT a gay tragedy! This 90’s film actually shows a warm and loving story of two teen boys going through their bulls#^# and finding safety and growth with each other! There a few tough moments but that’s all they are. Moments. The rest is ‘feel good’ and it makes you want to watch this movie over and over.
The Sleepover: Towards the beginning of the movie after Ste has been beat up by his dad (I told you there are some rough moments) he and Jaime are hanging out in Jaime’s room where a very obvious tension is present. As Ste requests they go to bed because things are getting a little too hot and heavy, Jaime decides to shoot his shot, reach over, and give Ste a very humble peck on the lips!
Ste doesn’t react but just asks him, “Do you think I’m queer?”
Jaime gives him the BEST answer I could have imagined; “Doesn’t matter what I think.”
UGH. This isn’t a good “gay love story” it’s a good love story PERIOD. These two have amazing chemistry on screen and aside from having a strong romantic connection, they feel like good FRIENDS. I think that is the resting pulse for any powerful pairing; aside from romantic pull do they seem like they really like one another as people? It’s totally present here. No gay tragedy, no one moving away, no one dying, no one picking the woman over the man, it’s just perfect.
oh! Also worth noting that at the climax of the scene when the two just accept what they feel, the classic song from The Sound of Music begins, “You wait little girl on an empty stage for fate to turn the light on…” Yeah, my heart was broken with joy at that point.
Mama Cass: Though she never makes an appearance in the film she feels like a faceless main character. She’s mentioned often and her music comes in at the most beautiful moments.
There is a scene when Ste and Jaime find the guts to venture off to a gay bar (I have my opinions about that being the “only” doorway to self acceptance but this is the 90’s so I will let it go) and after they have a good time they run in the night to play a game of tag in the woods. Mama Cass sings “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and the two kiss against a tree and teenage me felt that life just MAYBE could be good.
That despite how s#$^# being a teenager can be, and despite the fact that maybe I would never get a moment like Ste and Jaime in my teen years, that somewhere down the line everything could work out. Isn’t that what a lot of us look for when we reach out for movies and stories? Some kind of hope?
Alas, the pairing at the end of the film engage proudly in a slow dance with each other in front of a setting sun around all their neighbors as “Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays. It’s probably one of the best endings to a film I have ever seen.
This is one of those unknown gems that I would love to see a modern adaptation of. There’s a lot here and it really is a simple movie. Every character isn’t perfect. Each one seems to have something about them that isn’t great…but that’s all of us, right? Jaime’s mom and even Jaime himself is kind of a brat! I love it! You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
I give Beautiful Thing a 5 out of 5 potatoes