Movie review of “Closet Monster”: This quirky, homoerotic coming-of-age tale from Canada is surprisingly tense and entertaining. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
“Closet Monster,” one of several memorable teen movies that screened at last spring’s Seattle International Film Festival, is a surprisingly tense and entertaining homoerotic fever dream from Canada.
The first-time writer-director, Stephen Dunn, focuses on the impact of divorcing parents who channel much of their bile through their 18-year-old son, Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup). He’s a makeup artist who is discovering that he likes boys, particularly his co-worker Wilder (Aliocha Schneider).
The quirky soundtrack features the voice of Isabella Rossellini as a hamster named Buffy (“I’m your spirit animal,” she explains), who supplies slightly sarcastic advice for the conflicted hero. Rossellini is the only marquee name in the cast. Jessup carries the leading-man role without a hitch.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Closet Monster,’ with Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Sofia Banzhaf and the voice of Isabella Rossellini. Written and directed by Stephen Dunn. 90 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains rough language, sex scenes). SIFF Cinema Egyptian.
While the enigmatic ending doesn’t quite come off, the father-son scenes are intense and sometimes scary. Who would want to live on this level of mental and physical abuse?
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The episodes with Oscar and Wilder are wonderfully wry, as is the scene in which Oscar is given the most candid small-town career advice available. As Oscar’s best friend, Gemma, Sofia Banzhaf is more than a “Will & Grace” stereotype.
The ingenious cinematographer, Bobby Shore, uses the Newfoundland locations to achieve some of his most striking effects. The result is sort of a horror film, but not really. It’s too funny to be categorized that way.
At last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, “Closet Monster” took the prize for best Canadian feature.