Saturday, January 20, 2018

Freak Show - Being Young and Fabulous Only Looks Easy

It's not enough to douse yourself in gasoline, you have to light yourself on fire to make it work!
Idina Menzel in the Glee episode Theatricality

The above quote, as you can see, is not from this movie. Instead it is borrowed from Glee. It seemed appropriate though to describe Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), Freak Show's main character. He's precocious to a fault, quotes Oscar Wilde and has a wardrobe style that spans the gamut from Boy George to Lady Gaga with a bit of Madonna thrown in for good measure. Billy is from an obviously wealthy family and spends his spare time playing bartender to his mother who he refers to as "Muv" (Bette Midler). This is all in opposition to his father who is referred to as Daddy Downer (Larry Pine).

Circumstances that at first are not explained pull Billy out of his ideal life and force him to relocate and live with his father. He ends up in a much more conservative environment and enrolled in a very cliche private school where most of the students are not impressed by his antics. The quote "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down" pretty much sums up his life at school. There are the usual taunts and jibes but they escalate to actual violence. All of this is made slightly tolerable by a couple of friends and the unlikely attention of the charismatic football star (Ian Nelson).

Mostly everything works. Freak Show has some great witty dialogue, fabulous costumes and a completely enjoyable over the top Bette Midler (she was actually the reason I jumped at renting this still in theaters movie on iTunes). Alex Lawther who is getting a lot of well deserved attention right now for the Netflix series The End of the F***ing World (I'm not being prudish. That's how the title is spelled) was was born to play Billy. He has a real natural talent and charisma for acting and as a plus for this movie, he can read you like a book in the best Bette Davis snarl. My only complaint would be that the movie goes on a bit too long. I'm not sure if it's intentional or just my opinion but Billy begins to grate on the nerves at a certain point. I realized that it may be exhausting knowing somebody like him. There is a constant feeling that he is sucking up all of the oxygen in the room in his manic need for acceptance (or is it attention?). On balance though, I really enjoyed this movie so it will be the first since I started posting again that I say deserves an A.


Unknown said...

I loved this film also! But I agree that it went on for a bit! I thought Bette was amazing though! And the lead actor worked the character really well!