04 March 2013

Movie Review: North Sea Texas

I have no idea how I came upon these European films. But recently, I watched North Sea Texas which is a Flemish film about growing up gay in the 1970s Low Countries. We follow Pim who is gay and/or transgendered. He lives with his single mother Yvette who plays the accordion in a local pub. Yvette dates Etienne for a while and then a former Roma boarder named Zoltan returns.

Meanwhile, Pim is in love with his neighbor Gino who lives with his single mother and sister nearby. They have known each other since they were children but as teenagers, hormones fly and they enter into a very tender clandestine sexual relationship. All is well until Gino starts dating Francoise who lives in Flemish France. Pim doesn't learn about this from Gino but from Gino's sickly mother. Somehow Yvette and Pim have a falling out of some sort after he suffers from a psychosomatic illness related to Gino leaving Belgium for Flemish France. Pim moves in with Gino's mother and sister but then Gino's mother takes a turn for the worst.

Gino and Pim rolling about the fields of Flanders

One of the nice things about this movie has to do with that figure in our lives who is supposedly straight until he jumps in bed with us and then less in touch with his own emotions and identity takes his ambivalence and anxiety out on us. Many of these coming of age films fail to give this character any nuance, making those film really about the victimhood and survivorship of the young gay teen. This interferes with that popular narrative by looking at the troubled sexualities of more than the main character. Pim is definitely the sympathetic gay teen in the movie, but he isn't a victim. Gino is given some depth and we are drawn into the grit of the human emotional experience. And then we get the dramatic twist ending.

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