Get Real

(Simon Shore, UK, 1999)


Gay-themed movies about teenagers tend to relate either the arduous trials of coming out, or the tantalising process whereby a previously straight person discovers other possibilities – a storyline referred to as ‘the turn’.

Get Real is notable for presenting a young hero, Steven (Ben Silverstone), who is already comfortable with his gay identity. His problem is not in recognising his desire, but pursuing and satisfying it – particularly in a sleepy, southern English town like Basingstoke.

Fortunately, Steven has a merry best friend, Linda (Charlotte Brittain), who is equally broad-minded and pleasure-oriented. At school, however, Steven has to be more circumspect – especially given his attraction to the local sports jock, John (Brad Gorton).

The story traces a tangle of misunderstandings and subterfuges involving friends, parents and lovers. The school newspaper becomes an important plot device in bringing private and public realms together – leading to a big end-of-year finale reminiscent of old Hollywood romantic comedies.

Get Real occasionally gestures in the direction of contemporary British and American teen movies, through pop songs and scenes centred on cars. But, in essence, it has the personality of a David Puttnam production rather than a John Hughes film.

Director Simon Shore is not entirely able to shake off the didactic, earnest social-issue aura that may have hung more heavily over Patrick Wilde’s original play. The film’s comparison of homophobia with the oppression that Linda suffers because of her obesity is rather heavy handed.

However, the film exudes a good-natured charm. Get Real is instantly forgettable, but fun while it lasts.

© Adrian Martin February 2000

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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