In Queue Review – “Freak Show”

“I didn’t choose to be fabulous. Fabulous chose me.” [WERK]

Genre: YA Fabulousness
Release Date: 2017
Where I Watched: Netflix

Talky talk: Directed by Trudy Styler (aka Sting’s muse) in her feature film directorial debut, it’s no wonder this film is fabulous. That, and Billy’s mom is played by Bette Midler. Yes indeed y’all. Grab your umbrella because the glitter is coming DOWN. And I loved every minute.

Billy is the kind of guy I would have killed to have known when I was in school. Out, proud, and a glamorous as hell “gender-obliviator”, which is a fantastic descriptor, btw. Best friends Flip (the football star who loves art) and Blah Blah Blah, a girl who is Billy’s “best friend”, but whose name he never really caught) give great deadpan against Billy’s fabulousness, and manage to get a little shine of their own. But not too much – this is Billy’s story, and we’re going in deep.

Billy misses his mom, and feels out of place, and we see that pain. But in living his life, he’s beaten within an inch of his life, landing in a days long coma. He struggles with his desire to be appreciated as a human being, and staying true to himself. And he tries to figure out his place with a father who cast him aside years ago. Show tugs the heartstrings and lets us giggle at the wonderful pain of teenage life. Styler balances it all exceedingly well. And as Billy, Alex Lawther excels at showing viewers exactly what’s going on inside his mind, as he glitters, shines, and shimmies through his day to day life.

The third act emotional car crash might be expected – it is the way most screenplays are written – but it hits harder thanks to the stylistic switch from the fantastical of Billy’s life to the authenticity of those around him. Things may not be all that they seemed to be, and it rocks his fragile world. Kudos to Bette Midler and Larry Pine as his larger than life (but all too human) parents, and the amazing character actor Celia Weston as Billy’s surprise emotional core, his father’s housekeeper Florence.

Then there’s the stunningly beautiful cinematography – the colors leap off the screen, at times overly saturated, and then all too real. The groovy soundtrack feels like Velvet Goldmine for the teen set. I mean that as the highest compliment. It’s currently on loop at my house.

Come for: The almost fairy tale quality of Billy’s life (the sweet and the scary), and some quality 21st century teen film realness
Stay for: THAT CLOSET FILLED WITH AWESOMENESS, and the most perfect “Last Supper” shot at 37:52. You’re welcome.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
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