North Sea Texas

December 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Posted in 2012 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ½

There was only one woman in the entire theater and my friend and I were clearly 15 years younger than every other person present.  This gave a strange edge to this film of coming-of-age gay love.  In particular, the man behind us was the single noisiest eater of popcorn I can remember and his lip smacking gave an additional lasciviousness to the scenes of kissing teenage boys.  Once his popcorn was done, he promptly fell asleep and snored for the rest of the movie.  None of this has anything to do with the film itself but informs my experience of the movie; so, take my review with the appropriate grain of popcorn salt.  “North Sea Texas” (“Noordzee, Texas” in Flemish) is a Belgian film that probably takes place in the late 60s or 70s (judging by clothes and cars).  It tells the story of Pim from almost 15 years old to around 17 years old and his passionate love for Gino, his 3-years-older neighbor.  The story is that story.  We all know that story and all the details beyond that are almost irrelevant.  After having seen dozens of gay coming-of-age films, this presents nothing new.  There is love and lust and heartbreak and growing older and blah, blah, blah… you get the idea.  Don’t see this film because you want to learn something new about the human experience.  There is a certain truth here, it just isn’t a very novel one.  What is slightly more interesting is the film’s color palette.  I’m very visual and was almost distracted by the colors of this film.  It has a gorgeous golden sheen that is present in hair color, clothing choices, curtains and furniture, blades of grass, the sandy beaches and the use of light.  It is everywhere, especially in the first half of the film and imbues it with a deep warmth.  At first, Pim wears only bright golden shirts and his boyfriend is in browns and tans.  Then the film saddens and Pim’s shirts all become various shades of blue and they mirror the blue-grey tones that Gino’s sickly mother wore throughout the movie.  Later he returns briefly to gold shirts again, when he has another crush.   He wears nothing but blue and/or gold at all until the last 5 minutes, when he suddenly wears a green shirt (a blend of the two, get it?) for the final scene (a scene that strikes me as at odds with the direction the film had been taking).   The only other shock of color is the crimson that represents Pim’s mother and her lascivious ways.  Some people might find that use of color heavy handed but it made the film interesting to me; I could almost predict the next scene based on what shirt Pim was wearing.  The boys themselves are both very pretty and there is a tenderness in most of their scenes together.  This film reminded me of how much more comfortable Europeans are with sexuality in general and with adolescent sexuality specifically.  It does not shy away from lust as brother and sister compete for the same boy and mother and son compete for the same man.   Unfortunately, most of the acting was almost universally flat.  This was especially problematic as the film went on and more and more traumatic events occurred, requiring Pim and others to actually do something close to emoting.  Similarly, I had problems with some of the metaphors/symbolism of the film.  Texas was the name of a bar in their small town.  Other than being a beautiful old and slightly dilapidated deco-style building (truly a wonderful image in the film), it served almost no purpose.  Likewise, though the sea appears in the background of a couple of scenes it is only referenced once when Pim runs into it.  So, I am not sure how “North Sea, Texas” becomes the title.  Pim also has an odd obsession with reciting the alphabet naked.  Why?  One might reasonably ask.  I have no idea and I challenge anyone who watches the film to tell me.  This is far from a great film and I’m not sure it’s even a good one, though it isn’t a bad one, either.  If you love the color and look a film can have, or if you just love pretty boys making out, see this film.  Otherwise, don’t.



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