Get Real



UK 1998
Simon Shore
106 mins

Ben Silverstone’s appealing lead performance is the main reason to see this well-intentioned but otherwise blandly-executed tale of forbidden teenage love. Steven Carter is 16, he lives in leafy, stuffy Basingstoke, and he’s gay. Though comfortable with his sexuality, he knows neither his parents nor schoolmates are ready for the news. Until, that is, he forms an unlikely relationship with John Dixon (wooden Brad Gorton, who looks about 25), star athlete and all-round school stud. Wary of damaging his hunky image, John insists the romance remains secret – but Steven finds this easier said than done…

There’s no faulting Get Real‘s message: it’s about tolerance, honesty, trusting yourself, trusting others. And Silverstone, despite his alarming resemblance to geeky Carry On star Richard O’Callaghan, does his best to make it watchable – his scenes with Charlotte Brittain, as next-door-neighbour and confidante Linda, are especially fresh and convincing. The film is enjoyable and hard to dislike – which may not be entirely a good thing, however.

The gay themes are handled with an admirable lack of fuss, but the package they come in is too tasteful, too carefully put together. While director Simon Shore can’t be blamed for the script’s predictably contrived melodrama – Patrick Wilde adapted his own play – he might at least have brought it to the screen with a bit of pep. Instead we get TV-flat visuals, scored by creakily old-fashioned incidental music to ram home every point. As a story, it’s enjoyable, even admirable, especially given the political controversies over the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. But as a movie, it’s a non-event. Released at around the same time, Swedish hit Show Me Love covered virtually identical ground, but with an intoxicating energy that this picture never comes close to matching. Like John Dixon, it’s got the right idea – it just needs to loosen up a bit.

10th January 2001

by Neil Young
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