Why ‘Freak Show’ is the best gay coming-of-age movie ever
With everyone going gaga for the To All The Boys sequel (which is pretty great), we’re certain that those whose taste run more LGBT+ are looking for some quality content to check out as well. Well, we have one YA teen movie for you to check out with Freak Show.
Based on the book by James St. James, Freak Show follows gender-nonconforming teenager Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), who transfers to an ultraconservative high school and makes a statement by running for homecoming queen. The film may not have been well received by critics, but has found a nice cult following. Here’s why Freak Show is the best gay coming-of-age movie out there.
Billy feels real
Billy feels like a real and genuine kid. While his fabulousness can not be contained by descriptors like boy or girl, he finds himself thrown through a loop at his new school. Like any kid who is bullied, any kid who longs to find a place, he does, for a bit, try to fit in with his classmates. Not that it helps much.
You know what? That’s true to the high school experience. No matter how comfortable a kid is in their skin, others will try to find a way to pick at it. Billy’s real triumph in the film is seeing that he’s unhappy with how others are making him feel and decides to challenge that. Billy is comfortable with who Billy is. That’s the most profound message of the film.
Alex Lawther utterly nails that aspect of Billy. In the hands of anyone else, the turn could feel cheap, but Lawther does a truly amazing job with the role.
The rest of the cast is pretty amazing
Freak Show should be seen for the performance of Bette Midler as Alex’s mother alone. She’s a riot to watch whenever she is on screen and a true delight. Like Moira Rose before Moira Rose existed, you know?
Abigail Breslin, who plays Billy’s rival for homecoming queen, is also astounding. She channels her inner “mean girl” to pitch-perfect perfection with every scene she’s in. We should have gotten more of that performance on Scream Queens.
AnnaSophia Robb, Ian Nelson, Lorraine Toussaint, Laverne Cox are all just as amazing within the film. The cast alone is worth the price of admission.
The message is perfect coming-of-age fodder
It’s always hard, even with the most accepting parents and support group, to feel like you can authentically be yourself. Double that anxiety for kids who identify as LGBTQ+. You just feel othered at times from those around you to a way where you hide the best parts of yourself.
Freak Show, however, has the message that, even when the world makes you feel otherwise, those things are what make you strong. It’s not always easy to be yourself, but you’ll be a lot happier for it. That’s not a bad message to give to teens who are struggling to find themselves in the world. Hell, it’s not a bad reminder for adults to have as well.
It’s really funny
Don’t get us wrong, Freak Show can get dramatic at times. The comedy parts, however, are really funny. The film is billed as a comedy-drama, which means that chiefly it is a comedy. Freak Show is definitely hilarious in a sort of Mean Girls, Easy A sort of way but with added drama.
Sometimes, you need to be close to tears one moment and in the next be crying laughing. This is something that Freak Show delivers to us. Midler, chief amongst the cast, delivers those laughs in spades.
If you love some beautiful costumes, then look no further than the looks that Billy Bloom serves to the world. They’re utterly beautiful, especially for an indie movie. Though we would not be surprised if most of Freak Show’s budget went to the costume department. They nailed it on that front.
After all, if the world around you hates you, then you might as well look good.