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Get Real movie review

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Get Real


With all fairness to 'Get Real,' the film is categorized in an exclusive group of cinematic oddball films that focus on homosexual life up close and personal. Maybe in five years time these films will be common and widely received, but not just yet. This means that before a cinema patron purchases a ticket, before any popcorn can be digested, and even before internet critics can put finger to keyboard, this film is part of a vocal minority -- like it or lump it.

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Surely, it bears some trademarks of a "special" film, with performances that unwind with a discerning realism and a story that unfolds with a dry and partly witty approach to the subject of forbidden love. That forbidden love is of course based around a gay intimacy. But it might as well have been forbidden love between a man and a woman or a New Zealander and a sheep -- once the plot lines are drawn, it's not difficult to predict where this cheeky little film is heading, and it's clear that it is not going to shut up until it speaks what is on its mind. Conveniently, and close to the film's completion, its central character is surrounded by his friends, family and colleagues, who are willing but unprepared to hear his Shocking Announcement. Try and guess what it is.

If that's missing the point, then I've suffered the side effects of a coming out of the closet story that left me cold.

Remarkably, with his sympathetic portrayal of a seemingly innocent adolescent, Simon Shore evokes the kind of feeling that a negative review of 'Get Real' would be far more unjust than a positive review -- it seems to me that it is in our current social agenda that these films deserve to be liked and seen. And maybe they do. Where Shore makes his mistake is in the way he tells his story, allowing 'Get Real' to unfold like a conventional romance when it is certainly not. Again, maybe in five years time this will change and our conventions will not replica their current state. But for now, directors still need to push the boundaries and distort and twist and take risks and make us squirm -- remember Head On? -- anything but surrender to normality. There are enough average heterosexual romances without adding average homosexual romances to the tally.

The phrase "I am gay" seems almost fashionable in the media now, as if the only homosexuals out there are cross-dressers or Big Gay Al's or well dressed gentlemen who quote Shakespeare and deliver witty remarks with impeccable timing. 'Get Real' works best at deconstructing this image of homosexuality as a painless social phase, brought on by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John and Molly Meldrum. It might be a great life for these celebrities, showered with money and fame, but not so for the little guys at the bottom who will never make it that high up the social hierarchy. And so the presence of gay life in 'Get Real' is far from tabloid, it's public, although it compares more readily to a secret society than a sexual preference in this circumstance. A toilet in a public park is where Ben (Ben Silverstone) meets other guys, in a typically sleazy manner, and Simon Shore wants maximum ironical effect by playing "Love is all around me" in the background.

The deconstruction of homosexuality as a social fable or a phase is a worthwhile concept for a film, and if 'Get Real' has the footwork of a great film, then Shore didn't get it quite right first time around. It obtains the realistic angle intended but says little for creativity -- perhaps a hint that it might work better in its original format as a play.

On the Buckmaster scale of 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 2 stars

Send your comments or review Luke Buckmaster
Review copyright Luke Buckmaster Read more of my reviews at In Film Australia http://infilmau.iah.net
Due for Australian release February 24, 2000 in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and March 24 in Brisbane
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Just the facts:

Title: Get Real (1999)
Written by: Patrick Wilde, based on his play "What's Wrong with Angry?"
Directed by: Simon Shore
Produced by: Stephen Taylor
Director of Photography: Alan Almond
running time:
rating:

The Players: Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton, Charlotte Brittain, Stacey Hart, Kate McEnery, Patrick Nielsen, Tim Harris, Jacquetta May, David Lumsden
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