Sunday, 19 April 2009

Were The World Mine (USA, 2008)

Director: Tom Gustafson.

Principal cast: Tanner Cohen, Nathaniel David Becker, Wendy Robie, Judy McLane.

How many of us have not, at some point in our lives, fallen for straight guys and wished that they would somehow reciprocate our feelings but to little avail? Quentin Crisp used to muse about the great dark man (of the straight variety, that is) that all gay men allegedly dream about but can never get as it would be a contradiction in terms for a straight man to fall in love with another man. But although his theory is highly questionable, not to say pure nonsense if applied to all gay men, it is a fact of life that a mutual infatuation is hardly the way things always happen even among men who identify themselves as gay. And if you have no idea how to win the heart of your prince, wouldn’t a love potion come in handy? And a love potion is exactly what makes the main character’s day in Were The World Mine.

Timothy, a very handsome but somewhat shy high school kid is in love with Jonathan, his hunky classmate who plays on the school’s rugby team and dates one of the cheerleaders. Taunted at school for his queerness (which in small town America equals a lack of ambition in sports and no interest in cheerleaders), Timothy divides his free time between Max and Frankie, a self-proclaimed heteroflexible couple and his single mother, who not only struggles to make the ends meet by taking up the odd jobs of peddling cosmetics and such but (naturally) also has a hard time coming to terms with her son’s homosexuality. Nothing particularly spectacular is set to happen in Timothy’s life until he graduates the school and swaps his narrow-minded hometown for the big and, hopefully, more tolerant world. Or rather – nothing would have happened, had it not been for his literature teacher, the mysterious Ms. Tebbit who has a very special plan not only for Timothy but all of the town’s inhabitants.

As part of the school’s curriculum all the high school’s seniors, including Timothy are required to perform in a play. The play chosen by Ms. Tebbit happens to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Timothy gets to play the part of Puck who, although actually an elf, is here referred to (surprise, surprise!) as a fairy. While learning his lines, Timothy comes across a recipe for a love potion which he then proceeds into making. When his friend Max comes to rehearse the play together with him, Timothy puts the love potion to test by sprinkling it through a pansy (!) into his eyes. And lo and behold, Max falls madly in love with him on the spot! Before long, Jonathan is all over Timothy while all his tormentors are making out with each other and his mother is pursued by her homophobic female boss. The town’s unaffected residents are in a complete state of shock and disbelief at this “epidemic of gayness” while the (apparently affected) mayor is busy marrying gay and lesbian couples in the Town Hall. But the love potion is bound to wear off sooner or later and the judgement day comes for Timothy when everyone’s free will is restored. Will everything just go back to “normal” then and will Jonathan forget all his feelings for Timothy?

It is clear that Timothy’s attempts to win the heart of his prince are not the only premise of this film. At one point, as he sprinkles the love potion into the eyes of his mother’s homophobic boss, he tells her to try walking in his shoes. A genuine understanding of someone else’s life and feelings is almost impossible to achieve unless you are forced to experience the same things and under the same conditions as this person. So what better way is there to change a homophobe’s mind than letting him/her fall in love with a person of his/her own sex, thus forcing these people to walk in our shoes. The real pity here is that this love potion will stay in Shakespeare’s Fairyland as I really wouldn’t mind trying it on the likes of Scott Lively and Pat Robertson. It would definitely do some good not only to them but also the rest of humanity.

Were The World Mine is also a musical film where songs are mostly performed when Timothy is daydreaming, providing for some very beautiful imagery set in the Fairyland. Fortunately, the film’s director doesn’t overdo the singing segments, so you don’t have to be a fan of musicals to enjoy this lighthearted comedy. Most of the cast is very goodlooking and there is no shortage of kissing scenes which would account, at least in part for the many audience awards this film has received at gay and lesbian film festivals. But it is also a beautiful fantasy which should appeal even to hardcore realists.

Here you can watch the film's trailer

1 comment:

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