Alex Strangelove

Here Be Spoilers!

Alex Strangelove is a 2018 rom-com about a high school student who agrees to have sex with his girlfriend. He is a virgin, so, unsurprisingly, the thought of sleeping with her threatens to overwhelm him. There is also another problem – a gay friend has a crush on him, and he rather likes them. What will he do?

I started watching this film last week and, while I enjoyed what I saw, I didn’t feel invested enough in it to keep watching. However, when I picked it up again a day or two ago, I watched a little more of it very happily before watching the last 55 minutes in one go today.

It’s funny how that can happen – only to me? To others? I don’t know: I like a film but find it hard to carry on watching it until I actually do and then all is well. Maybe there is a level on which I don’t like it? Or am nervous about how it will turn out? Who knows.

Back to Alex Strangelove. It is a very sweet and engaging film. This is chiefly due to the actors who all inhabit their roles really well – I think here particularly of Daniel Zolghadri, who plays Alex’s clownish friend, Dell. The script is at its best with him.

Ah, the script. Hollywood’s bane. Alex Strangelove is a coming out story. For the most part, it tells Alex’s story well, if not brilliantly. Where it failed, though, I think it failed in a very annoying fashion.

At the end of the film, Alex accompanies his girlfriend, Clare, to the school prom. By this point, he has come out to himself and her as gay. They attend the prom together pretty much for old time’s sake. Except, Clare has invited Elliot, Alex’s crush, with the intention of getting the two boys together, because she knows they won’t manage it themselves.

After meeting Elliot, Alex is once again overwhelmed – this time by the people watching them – and he flees to the toilets to gather his thoughts. Elliot joins him there but when Alex is unable to commit to him, he leaves suddenly, I think in annoyance. Moments later, Alex catches up with his friend. They kiss passionately: it is the start of a, hopefully, beautiful relationship.

Good. But the toilet scene – that annoyed me. I dislike how the script makes Alex look like the ‘baddie’ for not immediately committing to Elliot and making him run after him in order to do so. I felt the script was saying you should not be in the closet; if someone falls in love with you, it’s only right that you go with them. If you don’t, you are acting in some sense badly.

Perhaps in an ideal world everyone would be out, accepted, and living their best life. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Some people are in the closet, and in the closet for good, or at least necessary, reasons. Alex Strangelove isn’t the first movie I’ve seen where I’ve felt that the script was subtly trying to push the viewer, if he or she was closeted, into coming out, and it’s very unfair.

If I had written the film, I would have kept the ending, but had the toilet scene take place earlier so that Alex had more time to process his thoughts, come to terms with his sexuality, and fall more deeply in love with Elliot. At any rate, I would have made Elliot more understanding of Alex’s position so that he didn’t leave so peremptorily.

That’s my gripe. I would rate Alex Strangelove 7.5/10. It isn’t in the first division of teen films (where John Hughes’ pictures reside) but is funny and gentle picture all the same. Worth a shot.

New Links

This week I have added two new links to the side bar:

A Clerk of Oxford
Lesbians Who Write
Licence to Queer
Mars Hill

A Clerk of Oxford is written by Eleanor Parker who is an Anglo-Saxon and medieval historian. When I went to university I did so with the intention of taking my degree in American Studies. Within a term I had fallen in love with Anglo Saxon and Medieval English and never looked back. After university, I left my lovers behind and in time found a new one in Alexander the Great. I never stopped loving the Anglo Saxon and Medieval periods, though, and blogs and social media (Dr. Parker is also on Twitter @ClerkOfOxford) have allowed me to keep reading about those early days of my country and, for that matter, those days before England was a country at all.
NB: I also follow Eleanor Parker on Patreon. If you are interested in the Anglo Saxon – Medieval period it is well worth a follow.

Lesbians Who Write supports the podcast of the same name, which is hosted by lesbian romance writers Clare Lydon and T. B. Markinson. I discovered LWW after meeting Lydon at a talk she gave to the Transport for London LGBTQ group three or four years ago. Being a keen, but easily distracted writer, I attended the talk for any practical advice in the art of writing that she might give. After the talk, I bought some of her books, enjoyed them, and have continued buying them ever since. The podcast is part informal chat and part discussion on the theme of writing. Whether or not you like lesbian romances, Lesbians Who Write is worth listening to for the writing advice (particularly if you are considering being a self-published author like they are). Lesbians Who Write has a Twitter account @LesWhoWrite)

Licence to Queer. Up until a few months ago, I did not know that a James Bond ‘fandom’ existed, but it does, and some of its members are on Twitter. That’s where I found Licence to Queer’s author (who tweets at @licencetoqueer). Every so often I hear stories of fandoms becoming very toxic because of the bad behaviour of some of their members. To date, I have not heard of – or seen – anything bad come from the fans of James Bond. I have not traditionally got into being part of fandoms but have seen really awful behaviour where it has no place at all (alas, of all places, on ‘Catholic Twitter’) so to find a group of people so at peace with one another is a blessing.

Below is an image that I have stolen from Licence to Queer – I hope he doesn’t mind; it is Léa Seydoux who appeared in the last Bond film, Spectre, and will be in this year’s No Time To Die. I have included it just to sneakily promote my next blog post, which will be a little review of Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which I finished watching yesterday.

Mars Hill is a blog that specialises in politics, from a moderate left perspective, and Christianity. It is run by Paul Burgin who I have had the great honour of knowing since we ‘met’ via a now defunct C. S. Lewis forum called Into The Wardrobe in the ’90s. I don’t share Paul’s politics, or Christian home for that matter (he is a Methodist and I a Catholic), but he is a thoughtful and kind witness to all that he believes. Apart from C. S. Lewis, we have something else in common: a love of all things Bond (Actually, I think it may have been through him that I discovered the above mentioned Bond fandom) and have recorded conversations with one another about several of James Bond’s films. You can find them on Paul’s You Tube page, here. As it happens, we will be discussing The Spy Who Loved Me next Tuesday. Paul is on Twitter @Paul_Burgin)