Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Were the World Mine

Were the World Mine
Dir. Tom Gustafson
Year: 2008
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 95mins

The likes of Todd Haynes, Derek Jarman and Gregg Araki have a lot to answer for. If it weren't for directors like them and other vital names of the New Queer Cinema movement - and even those like Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell who have come to prominence with quality gay cinema after that early '90s heyday - then it might be acceptable to find films such as Were the World Mine quality representations of gay life on screen. Such as it is, however, and Tom Gustafson's teen musical is embarrassing, stupid, cliched to the extreme and inept in almost every conceivable way.

I am of the strong and unwavering belief that the segment of gay cinemagoers who cheer on movies such as Another Gay Movie would not be so kind if they were about heterosexual characters. With Were the World Mine, we are being asked to give unlikeable characters, unfathomably bad writing, lousy camerawork, baffling character and plot development, obvious song choices (Mika? Really?), tacky and forced raunch, unsexy eroticism and lapses in logic, common sense and sanity. Sorry, no can do. No amount of watching pretty boys pash each other, as fun as that can be to watch from time to time, can make me ignore, for instance, a scene in which the drama teacher puts a magic hush spell over a group of outraged parents.

Is it even worth discussing the plot? The flimsy amount of it that there is could easily be written about and still only fill half of a post-it note. So, there's this all boys' school and they're putting on a show of A Midsummer's Night Dream and then the school's resident queer boy puts a spell on everyone and they go all gay like. That's it. Oh, I guess he realises the errors of conformity? Or he realises that love is not something to be played with? Or he realises that homoerotic all boys schools are hotbeds of steamy lust just begging to be set free?

Oh who cares, writer and director Gustafson (he co-wrote with Cory James Krueckeber) clearly don't and are instead more interested in seeing HOT BOYS MAKE OUT AND OLD QUEER-HATERS GET THEIR COMEUPPANCE YEAH!!! Oy. The former is uninteresting because it comes off as soft-core porn and nothing even close to realism and passion or sensuality. And it's as if the makers thought the only people who would see this movie were easily-excitable gay people who wouldn't care that even the homophobes are so thinly painted with broad strokes of weak paint.

All of this could have possibly been forgiven, although only slightly, if Gustafson were interested in telling a tale of a boy growing up gay. I'm far from being the sort of person who thinks all gay cinema should be about having AIDS or being gay-bashed, but when Were the World Mine decides to ditch any semblance of drama in favour of OMGLOOKATTHEHOTBOYSKISSING!!! it ceases to hold any interest. There is no conflict, no urgency and no reason to keep watching unless you like watching, you guessed it, cute boys kissing while singing wishy-washy songs with tedious lyrics.

One good musical number and an actually nice lead performance from Tanner Cohen are all that stops Were the World Mine from descending into truly F-grade territory. As it is, I'm left here wondering why there only appears to be one school in this entire town, and an all boys one at that, or why there never appear to be any other teachers or students at this school other than the main characters. Or why characters talk about the town it is set in having a population of "10,000" and yet somehow someone can make a career out of selling Avon type products door to door? Honestly, this movie is not interested in answering any of these so why am I asking? Because I'm not so easily distracted by guys with no shirts on that I can so calmly forget such inept filmmaking, that's why. D-


Paul Martin said...

Good gay cinema is good cinema (eg Brokeback Mountain).
Good children's cinema is good adult cinema (eg The Secret of Roan Inish).
Good cinema is good cinema.

RJ said...

Agreed. I also had a problem with the fact that the effect of the spell isn't consistent. Does it make you fall in love with the first person you see or does it make you gay? It seems to do both/go both ways in the movie. Huh?

Glenn Dunks said...

RJ, I noticed that too but didn't write about it. As in only the two characters that mattered in the plot fell for the lead character and everyone else just paired off into convenient duos so they could be thrown aside.

Anonymous said...

First read A Midsummer Night's Dream, then maybe you'd all be smart enough to actually understand the film.