- 01 Jun 16
DISAPPOINTINGLY SELF-INDULGENT COMING-OF-AGE DRAMA
Tenderness, metaphor and an excruciating amount of navel-gazing define this coming-of-age story about a young gay British teen exploring love and longing in the south of France. Alex Lawther, who beautifully played the schoolboy Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, stars as Elliot, a 15-year-old boy prone to bouts of poetic moodiness.
Donning a vintage soldier jacket, scribbling in notebooks and practising how to smoke, Elliot is cultivating his adult identity, while his mother, Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson), is dismantling hers. As Beatrice empties out a French holiday home after a rift in her marriage, both she and Elliot find themselves drawn to Clement (Phenix Brossard), an enigmatic and charming teenager.
As Elliot becomes obsessed with his new acquaintance, the complexities of sexual identity and desire are explored. Elliot embraces his besotted state, while Clement’s hunger may not be for sex, but any form of love and attention. Brossard is captivating in the role: assured and subtle, his cheeky and mocking character acts as a necessary foil to Elliot, whose affectation can be grating – a result of the indulgent screenplay and some overacting by Lawther.
The vulnerability, consuming lust and clawing need shared between the boys acts as a sad reminder of what is lost to Beatrice, and Stevenson is beautiful in her somewhat underwritten role.
While theatre director Andrew Steggall’s debut feature is beautifully shot, and the landscapes of southern France accentuate the elegiac tone, the drama is overwrought at times. The cloying score and overused metaphors (water, dead deer), meanwhile, indicate a blend of insecurity and self-indulgence that betray Steggall’s own cinematic adolescence.