And so we come to the closing movie of the Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Fest 2019 with a seemingly odd choice that is radically hetero normcore. And we like it.
There is absolutely nothing queer about Top 3, other than it is a romantic comedy between two men. A lot of the output of the Fringe! has a provocatively defiant perspective (did you make it to the daddy pampering workshop, the spanking masterclass, the history of poppers or the beginners guide to fisting?). Instead we have the distinctly conventional animated tale of David and Anton in which boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy, boy and boy travel the world and then settle down, boy and boy realize they have different wants and needs in life, boy breaks up with boy.
Directed and illustrated by Sofie Edvardsson, animated and edited by Jakob Nystrom, and produced and written by Simon Osterhof the perky, greeting card like animation of Top 3 has a stylized prettiness. With the visual impact of a children’s story book it is a shame to miss out on the picture post card visuals in order to keep up with the English subtitles of this Swedish tale. There is a corporate cleanliness to the care with which the scenes and characters are depicted. It might remind viewers of workplace videos on how to be a trigger free employee. It all adds to the effect of normalizing their situation and relationship so that the focus is on human truths rather than gay truths.
The title Top 3 refers to a recurrent device used in the animation where David, our wet blanket hero, gives his Top 3 list for any situation. On the verge of his break up we learn that his Top 3 things to do on a final night with his lover are 1) Overdramatize everything 2) Discover something new 3) Be as bored as possible to make time pass slowly. The Top 3 lists create punctuation marks of self-reflection throughout the tale. The point of that tale is the learning process that each person goes through by being part of a couple. In the great tradition of romantic comedies David learns that however much he yearns for the particular things that make him happy those things he enjoys are of less value compared to having someone to enjoy them with.
Top 3 is terribly predictable, but only once you have cast aside the expectation that because it’s a gay romantic comedy it will somehow be different than all the straight rom coms. It isn’t – and that’s the radical point it makes.