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Beautiful Thing

Arguably the first movie to show a realistic same-sex romance between two gay teens, Beautiful Thing is based on the play by Jonathan Harvey[?], who also wrote the screenplay for this 1996 Channel Four production. Initially, the movie was only intended for TV broadcast, but it was so well-received that it was later released theatrically.

Jamie (Glen Berry[?]), a teen who is more than a little infatuated with his handsome classmate, Ste (Scott Neal[?]), has to deal with his single mother Sandra (Linda Henry[?]), who is totally occupied with her ambitious plans to open her own pub, and with her ever-changing lovers. Jamie's homosexuality, while he tries to hide it somewhat, is reason enough for his classmates to maltreat him wherever they can.

Ste, who is living together with his drug-trafficking brother and his alcoholic father in the apartment next door, one night gets abused by his father so badly that Sandra takes pity and lets him sleep over.

Lacking a third bed, Ste has to make do with lying head-to-toe with Jamie, who tries his best not to act to excited. However, after a memorable scene that demonstrates an imaginative use of foot lotion, the boys soon change sleeping arrangements to something more convenient.

The next morning, Ste panics because he had sex with Jamie and runs away. A few days later, Jamie finally spots him at a nearby party and decides he will tell Ste about his feelings for him.

Slowly it dawns on Ste, that he should accept another person's love, this most Beautiful Thing of all, no matter if other people find that idea repulsive.

The movie ends with the two slowly dancing to the tunes of Mama Cass[?], with a guarding Sandra, who has discovered that being a caring mother is for her more of a Beautiful Thing than sleeping around with men, at their side.

Aside from the unusual teenage subject matter, this film achieves an amazing blend of realism and gay romanticism unparalleled by other works. Thus, while Ste's problems with family and Jamie's problems at school are probably recognizable for any gay teenager, the movie is really about gay feelings and not so much about the problems they may cause. The plot cleverly avoids the common trap many other supposed gay movies have fallen into, namely being more issue-driven than character-driven (e.g., Philadelphia[?] starring Tom Hanks).

Jonathan Harvey[?] reportedly discovered Mama Cass[?] and The Mamas And The Papas when shopping for second-hand[?] records. This is fortunate, as the soundtrack perfectly mirrors the movie's tone and has lyrics that seem very fitting, in particular "Make Your Own Kind Of Music".

For a slightly more adult take on a similar subject matter, see Come Undone by Sebastien Lifshitz[?].

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