A closeted Newfoundland teen named Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup) dreams of becoming a special-effects makeup artist, and is terrified of his macho father Peter (Aaron Abrams) finding out the truth about his sexuality. When he falls for Wilder (Aliocha Schneider), a handsome, worldly co-worker at the hardware store, he is forced to confront his fears.
I never heard of this film until very recently when I saw a trailer. It looked very good and had a great soundtrack. What made it more interesting for me was that it is a Canadian film. I’m in Canada but I don’t always get the chance to see them by not living in a bigger market so I was excited when it finally arrived near me and the rest is history.
Oscar Madly (Jessup) has had quite a rough childhood. Seeing his parents divorcing at a young age, his father Peter’s (Abrams) constant male reinforcement and homophobic comments and the brutal rape of a young man by a group of bullies with a metal rod has left him emotionally damaged. Now a teenager hoping to make it as a makeup artist, he can’t quite shake his memory of that incident. This makes it difficult for him to come to terms with his own sexuality as any sexual feeling triggers this memory which manifested itself as the same metal rod that can be seen moving around within his body, causing him a great amount of discomfort.
This fact makes Oscar feel alone in that he can’t express himself to anyone, not even his best friend Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf). To make things easier for himself, he talks to his hamster named Buffy (Isabella Rossellini). Things begin to change for him once he meets a fellow co-worker named Wilder (Aliocha Schneider). Oscar quickly falls for his easy-going nature and bad boy charm. Wilder is also the only person who can truly see Oscar. He immediately figures out that Oscar is gay before Oscar seems ready to admit it to himself. Oscar and Wilder had great chemistry here but it would have been nice to have seen more of them together.
Oscar spends a lot of the film struggling with his own sexuality. This was very compelling to watch as Oscar was very likeable character which makes it easy for us to root for him. We hope that he eventually comes to terms with who he really is and for him to stand up to the homophobia that surrounds him and finally leave the town that he thinks is holding him back. Over the course of the film, we are presented with Oscar figuring out who he is alongside his father Peter figuring out who his son really is. You feel Peter starting to lose his grip over Oscar as he begins to see how his behavior has caused him to lose his wife and now his son.
This isn’t exactly a coming of age story as we all kind of knew who he really was. It was just up to him to get there. Oscar’s journey was fun to watch primarily for Jessup’s performance. He was likeable and it was easy to relate to him. He carried most of the film thanks to his range and his emotional vulnerability. Abrams’ Peter felt like a caricature at first and was okay but the film could have gone further with that character. Rossellini was great as Buffy since her voice just fit here and her vocal performance made Buffy stand out. The style of the film should also be commended with its colorful palette and surreal soundtrack.
Overall, this was a compelling, stylized film featuring a breakout performance by Connor Jessup