Get Real [1998/I]

Get Real begins with a couple of hedgehogs having sex, and deals with a topic just as prickly: gay love in adolescence. Steve (Ben Silverstone) is a student at a British school where everyone wears classy uniforms, knows he's gay, and is pretty comfortable being so. John (Brad Gorton), a top athlete and all-around admired guy, is just getting an inkling and isn't sure how he feels about it. This, cleverly, is how the movie manages to explore coming-out issues and be over them at the same time. In fact, the whole movie is pretty clever--witty dialogue, deft direction, nimble pacing, and clean editing--in exploring the seriousness of adolescent life without taking it too seriously. The key is in Silverstone's performance; he's a completely convincing mixture of hesitation and recklessness, all the conflicts of high school in one sweet-faced package. As the movie follows Steve and John's relationship--their evasions at school, getting picked up by the police in a park, goofing around in a heated swimming pool, grappling with coming out to the world at large--it lays out a bit of contrast with Steve's best friend Linda (Charlotte Brittain), who's as unapologetically fat as Steve is gay, and who's having an affair with her driving instructor. Excellent performances all around, funny, sexy, charming--if only straight teen comedies were half this good. Get Real even demonstrates the proper etiquette when soliciting sex in public restrooms; what more can you ask for? --Bret Fetzer

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