“Awaken and empower what’s within,” says the drama teacher at an all-boys private school to one of her students, a boy whose skinny jeans set him as much apart from the rest of the woman’s flock as does his desire to go down on them. A feisty, fire-haired eccentric, Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie of Twin Peaks fame) entices Timothy (Tanner Cohen) to try out for the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, relishing the idea of enacting it in the manner required by the Elizabethan stage, with the school’s boys playing the parts of the play’s females. Consider her, then, something of a real-life Puck, except her love potion is Shakespeare’s artistry. Captivated by the playwright’s bawdy allegory of love and art, Timothy not only sings the play’s immaculate verses in ways that have never been imagined before on stage or screen, he actually concocts Puck’s love potion, using it to similarly sort out the world’s troubles. Tom Gustafson’s artfully considered film delights in channeling the ethos of Shakespeare: Here, the play is the thing, and with the wild, potion-spewing pansy Timothy wields, he makes everyone around him a flamer. The material has been playfully updated, made into a parable of gay desire and wish fulfillment, but its significance remains the same, right down to Timothy’s understanding that free will must ultimately be restored. The filmmakers flirt with preciousness, but their often thrilling flights of creative fancy hinge on creating an insular vibe that’s very much in keeping with that of the play (“The Magic Position,” by that Puck-ish fairy known as Patrick Wolf, is even heard throughout). And though they seem to overstate the prejudices of the people around Timothy (even his mother at one point gripes about needing to come out of her own closet), the film understands itself as a fantasy of escape that, like Shakespeare’s lush artwork, hopes to both rouse the senses and one’s conscience.
- Tom Gustafson
- Tom Gustafson, Cory James Krueckeberg
- Tanner Cohen, Wendy Robie, Judy McLane, Nathaniel David Becker, Zelda Williams, Christian Stolte, Ricky Goldman, Jill Larson, David Darlow, Brad Bukauskas, Roger Croft
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