Growing up in a Belgium coastal town in the '70s, teenager Pim (Florizoone) spends his days lost in romantic reveries, while his ex-beauty queen mum (van der Gucht) and her awful, bullying boyfriend make his life a misery. First love, though, is just around the corner.
Having earned a cult reputation directing gay-themed shorts, Bavo Defurne makes an assured feature bow with this adaptation of a novel by André Sollie. Set on the Belgian coast several decades ago, this appears to be just another adolescent boy’s first love story. But such is Defurne’s affinity for both time and place and his insight into family dynamics that this becomes a poignant study of fitting in and breaking out. Ballet dancer Jelle Florizoone impresses as the 15 year-old loner who flirts with carnival worker Thomas Coumans to get back at floozie mother Eva Van Der Gucht and hunky neighbour Mathias Vergels, who jilted him following a secret tryst. But all the performances are as affecting as Anton Mertens’ evocative seascapes.
Tender and touching, this gay coming-of-ages story is underpinned by a terrific, subtle turn from newcomer Florizoone.
Reviewed by David Parkinson