Alex Strangelove is a gay teen comedy that thankfully is so much better than the squeaky clean over-sanitized rather drippy drama Love Simon that was loved by mainly teenage girls with the same passion that most gay men loathed it. For one thing, it’s rather raunchy and its protagonist Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) hasn’t yet realized he is gay, but when he does he at least falls for a real person and not just some anonymous boy online.
Skinny and rather charming, Alex is a self-confessed nerd and even though he is still in High School is desperate to fall in love and live happily ever after. He thinks he finds his soul mate when new girl Claire (Madeline Weinstein) shows up at school and they immediately hit it off. They quickly become best friends and that eventually morphs into being boy & girlfriend. However, unlike all their peers the couple innocently remain chaste until that is Claire inadvertently blurts that fact to all Alex’s mates.
Now Alex feels under pressure to lose his virginity and so makes a date to take Claire for an illicit night in a motel so he can finally lose his cherry. (He’s convinced himself that Claire had already lost hers). Then into the mix comes Elliot (Antonio Marziale) a slightly older self-assured openly gay boy. They meet at a party, and whilst Claire is off getting drunk with her girlfriends, the two boys find out they have a lot in common and hit it off.
Next day when Elliot asks Alex to go with him to see some edgy new rock band in Brooklyn, it starts becoming obvious that not only is there a bond already growing between the two of them, but that Elliot may have a crush on Alex. It is a situation that confused Alex discovers that he is not that adverse too.
Things come to ahead, at least for Alex, when on the planned night of passion in the motel he cannot play his expected part, and slowly it is sinking in that there may actually be a very obvious reason why he is unable to have sex with Claire.
This vastly entertaining dramedy written and directed by Craig Johnson works so beautifully because he shows such real insight into the anguish of a teenager discovering his sexuality. What’s fresh is the total lack of homophobia in the school or anywhere else and the only negativity about Alex’s sexuality is his own internalized struggle.
Pitch perfect performances from all the young leads, and from the supporting cast who played their best friends. Kudos to Johnson for this and avoiding any inclination to pepper the adult roles with major stars like in Love Simon.
If the is any criticism it is that there are points where Johnson unnecessary clutters the action with some unnecessary comic incidents. He needn’t have tried that hard as there was enough natural humor in the script already.
The movie is being released by Netflix and they will be screening it globally on June 8 (as well in selected movie theaters) which is excellent as it will mean that far more teenagers (like Alex) will get to see it, and discover that becoming your true self is never ever a bad thing.