Vincent (Julien Baumgartner) is a champion swimmer and veldictorian of his school. However, he has a secret – he’s gay. Hiding behind his girlfriend of convenience, Noémie (Julia Maraval), and seeing men in secret. After a badly judged pass at school newcomer Bruno (Nils Ohlund), Vincent is forced to come out – causing him to face the homophobia and bullying from his peers and forcing him to come to terms with his own sexuality.
Writer Vincent Molina’s biographical film explores the turbulent ordeal of teenage self-discovery with both style, substance, and depth. While it does tend to tick many boxes of teen coming out drama, there are a few surprising turns which stand it apart from the standard fare.
The people who fill Vincent’s world, like himself, are far from two-dimensional; feeling like very real people. They are complex and without being convoluted, but also relatively straightforward without being too predictable. Indeed it’s very easy to empathise with Vincent and his ordeal, ensuring the viewer holds their attention on the plot. Molina’s portrait of this painful rite of passage will chime with many people’s own experiences, even if didn’t involve as much drama and heartache involved as presented here.
Essentially the film has a very organic and genuine script, creating a genuine resonance that it’s easy to relate to. Also, the narrative’s cataclysms are never so overdone as to be laudable. Even the sex is more subtle than sensational and offers a real intimacy that other teen dramas lack. Furthermore there is a refreshing crescendo of hope and redemption that rises up from the ruins – a wonderfully positive take on what is often a miserable scenario, evoking the spirit of the It Gets Better campaign.
The performances from the cast are wonderfully believable. Baumgartner is incredibly realistic in his protrayal as the troubled seventeen year old, showing us that teen dramas never need to rely on melodramatic caricatures as compelling people, giving Vincent a subtlty and reserve that is almost unexpected throughout his turmoil. Maraval also plays distant and bitter incredibly well enduring the unintentional slights that Vincent puts her through. In fact, she’s probably the most surprising and original character in the entire film and makes threatens to steal the show in the supporting role.
However, it comes as no surprise to learn that director Fabrice Cazeneuve made his name in France by directing TV movies as this is exactly what Because of a Boy feels like. It embraces a very stable and solid intensity that we’ve become accustomed to in soap operas, despite its new take on an familiar story. Whilst having original perspectives, sound performances, and a sure depth, it ultimately lacks the spark of flare and flamboyancy that other coming out movies like Sasha have which would have made it feel that bit extra special. Also, the plot is dragged out a little too much towards the end, adding a more detail than is necessary, slowing the pace of the film.
That said, this is definitely an entertaining film – without being spectacular – and certainly gives a fresh perspective on coming out and finding who you are and where you belong.
Because of a Boy (You’ll Get Over It) is released on DVD on 11 June 2012. It is available for buy on Amazon UK.
Featured image: Julia Marava (left), Julien Baumgartner (centre) and François Comar (right). Photograph: Courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures.