Films that Queerty says represent the new golden age of LGBT stories include (from top by row, left to right) Freak Show, Prom King 2010, Saturday Church, Beach Rats, Something Like Summer, Alaska is a Drag, God’s Own Country, The Wound and Handsome Devil.
GOLDEN AGE Queer news and culture blog Queerty named Something Like Summer as part of the new “golden age of queer coming-of-age film,” noting it “may prove one of this year’s sleeper hits.”
In his July 7 article, wrapping up San Francisco’s recent Frameline film festival and looking ahead to Los Angeles’ Outfest, where Summer screens July 15, writer David Reddish named the film as one of nearly a dozen recent films marking a new trend: a new and “glorious diversity” in coming-of-age tales.
These stories deal with long-trod subjects like coming out, fighting for equality and finding love, but with a new twist—coming out now feels more like part of growing up rather than an earth-shattering revelation.David Reddish, Queerty
These new stories continue to mine the difficulties faced by LGBT youth, Reddish wrote, featuring no “lack of drama.”
Reddish compares this new crop of films to gay cinema’s heyday in the 1990s, “a period [that] produced some incredible work,” though “it took a while for queer films to evolve beyond an obsessive focus on gay men dying or coming out.”
As the LGBT community has progressed since then, and “evolved as an essential aspect of American culture, so do our stories,” Reddish concluded.
The Golden Era of Queer Coming-of-Age Films?
Reddish points to 10 films, including Something Like Summer, that make the case for this new “golden age.” Summer ranks No. 5 on the list, which includes:
- Freak Show, a “stunningly good adaptation of the James St. James novel,” Reddish describes, in which bullied queer teen Billy (Alex Lawther) decides to fight back against his repressive school atmosphere with glitter and makeup. Also stars Abigail Breslin, AnaSophia Robb, Bette Midler and Laverne Cox.
- Prom King 2010, in which cinephile Charlie combs New York’s streets seeks Hollywood-style love. Instead of the grand romance of From Here to Eternity or The Apartment, he finds a crazy world of leather bars and closeted freshmen.
- Saturday Church, is teenager Ulysses’ exploration of the world the queer and gender fluid, despite his oppressive aunt. Queerty calls it “an unusual (to say the least) musical set around the New York Ball scene.”
- Beach Rats This “gritty coming-of-age story” is the story of closeted Frankie on the Jersey shore. “Beach Rats caused a stir at both Sundance and Frameline, and no doubt Outfest viewers will have their own strong opinions,” Queerty observed. “The shirtless boys are, however, more menacing than hot, and don’t expect a Hollywood ending to this one.”
- Something Like Summer Reddish wrote: “This musical starts like a bad porno about the closeted theater boy in love with the popular high school jock, before turning into a very different kind of coming-of-age tale. Teen Benjamin … must confront the difficulties of his love life, and the painful realities of growing up. Based on the acclaimed young adult novel series, Something Like Summer may prove one of this year’s sleeper hits.”
- Alaska is a Drag Aspiring Alaskan drag queen Leo dreams of the glamour of stardom while living a mundane life as a cannery worker besieged by would-be queer bashers. The dark comedy features Margret Cho, Jason Scott Lee and Matt Dallas.
- God’s Own Country This British film has already won buzz and accolades at other festivals. Johnny is a small-town sheep farmer who meets Romanian immigrant Gheorghe. The two immediately dislike one another — Johnny’s anti-immigrant — but their relationship evolves into an unlikely romance.
- The Wound The treatment of queer people varies by culture, and so does the concept of growing up. This film examines the manhood initiation ritual among South Africa’s Xhosa tribe, bringing a “very new and shocking take on the coming-of-age genre,” Reddish noted, with a young man’s questioning sexuality emerging amid the tribe’s tortuous rituals.
- Handsome Devil, soon to hit Netflix, explores the unlikely friendship between a social outcast and a jock a rugby-made Irish boarding school. “Unlike contemporary Hollywood teens (looking at you, Spider-Man: Homecoming),” Reddish wrote, “Handsome Devil doesn’t shy away from the cruelty of school, or the angst of teen years. That alone makes the film more credible, and the emotional investment in the handsome young characters much, much deeper.”
- The Blue Hour This Thai coming-of-age story mixes queer romance with horror, following two teen boys seeking Internet romance but veering into psychological horror. Now available on Netflix, the movie “does manage to subvert queer coming-of-age conventions, and does so with creepy flare,” Reddish wrote. “It shows better than almost any movie how poverty and lack of privacy make coming out even harder.”