YOU'LL GET OVER IT (À Cause d'un Garçon)

Starring: Julien Baumgartner, Julia Maraval, François Comar, Jérémie Elkaïm, Patrick Bonnel, Antoine Michel and Nils Ohlund
Director: Fabrice Cazeneuve
Writing Credits: Vincent Molina
Distributor: Picture This! Entertainment (US 2004)
Rated: Not Yet Rated

My, how time flies...backwards. Ten years ago, Fabrice Cazeneuve's domestic drama YOU'LL GET OVER IT would have been about adults rather than teenagers. Twenty years ago, it wouldn't have been made at all. But with the widening public acceptance of gay culture and gay experience, it is perhaps not surprising that gays and lesbians are dealing with issues of identity at younger and young ages. And thus, stories about coming out -- which in late 80's/early 90's films like Making Love, Longtime Companion and Torch Song Trilogy dealt with men in their 30's and beyond -- now resonate most sharply with high schoolers, smashed in with all the confusion of puberty, hormones, first dates, and peer acceptance. While this well-told French variation may not have the style of some similarly themed efforts (Get Real, Edge of Seventeen) and less substance than the best of the genre (those would be Beautiful Thing and Wild Reeds), it nevertheless resonates with earnest truthfulness and packs a surprising dramatic punch.

A star of the school swimming team, Vincent (Julien Baumgartner) has -- even before the film has begun -- neatly compartmentalized his life, publicly dating the vivacious Noemie (Julia Maraval) while arranging periodic, clandestine sexual encounters with the older club kid Bruno (Nils Ohlund). Vincent's happy dichotomy, however, is imperiled by the arrival of new kid Benjamin (Jeremie Elkaim), a handsome gay rebel who immediately sees through Vincent's veneer. Their attraction to each other causes rumors to abound, and during a fight, Benjamin inadvertently outs Vincent. The damage, vividly captured in the knowing screenplay by Vincent Molina, is quick and absolute; family, friends, teachers, and classmates turn quickly on the popular Vincent, making him an outcast in a matter of hours.

Like most transformative moments in life, this turning point for Vincent begins a struggle for self-acceptance and a wider sense of place and community. A disastrous visit to a gay bar and the continuing support of Noemie inspire Vincent to seek an individual path towards identity, one not shaped in the forge of queer culture nor in the heterosexist, homophobic milieu of daily life. Director Cazeneuve reveals himself to be a master of the simplified moment, bringing the headier sociological issues of Vincent's story into a theatrical, emotional context that is both accessible and absorbing. An understated cast, led by the assured performance of Baumgartner (previously known primarily for his lead role in the French takeoff of American Pie, called Sexy Boys), brings depth to the soapier aspects of the screenplay. Especially affecting is Elkhaim (Come Undone), whose realization of the untended consequences of his actions makes for one of the more interesting turnarounds in recent memory.

Despite its proficiency, however, YOU'LL GET OVER IT rarely reaches more than mere adequacy; the feat of being genuinely moving and transformative eludes the filmmakers. Having begun its life on French TV, the rhythms of television dialogue in Molina's script blunt the dramatic flow, but the true fault may lie, sadly, in the material itself. Tales of high school drama often swim in the shallow end of the pool; it's hard to get too worked up over Vincent's story of ostracism, when everyone who matters in his life (including his best friend, girlfriend, parents, and swim coach) embrace his newfound sexual identity better than he does. The most powerful moments in Molina's script, actually, come from a subplot regarding Vincent's older brother Regis (Antoine Michel). A sad-sack boxer, Regis despises the lavish attention Vincent receives as a star athlete and pupil, and duplicitously finds ways to use his brother's secrets against him. Regis' fierce rage, perpetually boiling just beneath a stress-tight grimace, is the singular acting triumph of the film.

YOU'LL GET OVER IT never embarrasses itself; its 90-minute running time passes entertainingly, if unremarkably. In baseball vernacular, we might call this a solid double -- nowhere near a home run, but clearly a valid effort. There is nothing new in Vincent's tale of woe, but a tale told well is getting harder and harder to find these days on movie screens. And there's something to be said for letting all generations, young and old, relive the essential truths that, yes Virginia, you will eventually get over it. Coming out stories are one of the modern day rituals, and ripe with dramatic promise. Even if there have been better versions of this teen-dream story in recent years, YOU'LL GET OVER IT is still a worthy addition to the field.

-- Gabriel Shanks

Review text copyright © 2004 Mixed Reviews & the author. All rights reserved. Reproduction of text in whole or in part in any form or in any medium without express written permission of Mixed Reviews or the author is prohibited.

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