Entertainment » Movies

Alex Strangelove

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jun 8, 2018
'Alex Strangelove'
'Alex Strangelove'  

"Alex Strangelove" is a gay teen comedy that thankfully is so much better than the over-sanitized drama "Love, Simon" that was loved by mainly teenage girls with the same passion that most gay men loathed it. For one thing, it's rather raunchy and its protagonist Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) hasn't yet realized he is gay, but when he does he at least falls for a real person and not just some anonymous boy online.

Skinny and charming, Alex is a self-confessed nerd, and even though he is still in high school he is desperate to fall in love and live happily ever after. He thinks he finds his soul mate when new girl Claire (Madeline Weinstein) shows up at school and they immediately hit it off. They quickly become best friends and that eventually morphs into being boyfriend and girlfriend. However, unlike all their peers, the couple innocently remain chaste... until, that is, Claire inadvertently blurts that fact to all Alex's mates.

Now Alex feels under pressure to lose his virginity, so he makes a date to take Claire for an illicit night in a motel. (He's convinced himself that Claire had already lost hers). Then into the mix comes Elliot (Antonio Marziake), a slightly older, self-assured, openly gay boy. They meet at a party, and whilst Claire is off getting drunk with her girlfriends the two boys find out they have a lot in common.

The next day, when Elliot asks Alex to go with him to see some edgy new rock band in Brooklyn, it starts becoming obvious that not only is there a bond already growing between the two of them, but that Elliot may have a crush on Alex. It is a situation that the confused Alex discovers he is not terribly averse to. 

Things come to a head, at least for Alex, when on the planned night of passion in the motel he cannot play his expected part. Slowly it sinks in that there may be a very obvious reason why he is unable to have sex with Claire.

This vastly entertaining dramedy written and directed by Craig Johnson works beautifully because he shows such real insight into the anguish of a teenager discovering his sexuality. What's fresh is the total lack of homophobia in the school or anywhere else; the only negativity about Alex's sexuality is his own internalized struggle.  

Pitch-perfect performances are delivered by all the young leads, and from the supporting cast who played their best friends. Kudos to Johnson for this, and avoiding any inclination to pepper the adult roles with major stars as was the case in "Love, Simon."

If there is any criticism to be made, it is that there are points where Johnson clutters the action with some unnecessary comic incidents. He needn't have tried that hard, as there was enough natural humor in the script already. 

The movie is being released by Netflix, and they will be screening it globally on June 8 (as well in selected movie theaters), which is excellent as it will mean that far more teenagers (like Alex) will get to see it and discover that becoming your true self is never a bad thing.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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