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average rating is 3 out of 5


Isaac Parkinson


Posted on:

Jun 18, 2022

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Phil McAleavey and Gary Wales
Written by:
Adam McCaffrey
Adam McCaffrey, Gary Wales, Beth Reader, Simon Millar, Lindsey Mitchell

An anti-bullying educational drama that plays on sentiments to reiterate ideas about bigotry that should be assumed and yet never seem to take hold.


Life in a small town is difficult when you’re different from everyone around you. The pressure to conform is heightened by the homogenous social expectations and the constant exposure of an everyone-knows-everyone culture. There’s nowhere to hide who you are, but why should you have to? Sam (McCaffrey), a teenage boy, is the object of cruelty for several local bullies. Inflicting random and senseless violence on him and his best friend Reece (Wales), they have identified some difference within him and want to attack it as brutally as they can. This scene is the first instance an odd reverb on the sound, making some of their dialogue difficult to understand. The naturalistic lighting and shallow focus on a muted and subdued working class Britain has shades of Andrea Arnold’s film, such as Wasp (2003).


As Reece returns, he’s confronted by his father, who doesn’t want him to be friends with Sam due to a growing reputation in the town. The pervasive homophobia of their world and increasing rumours that Sam is gay have made Reece’s father worried about how they friendship will reflect on their own family. Even in their two-degree-removed connection, he wants to protect his social reputation at all costs. This generational bigotry not only comes from his friends’ parents, but from Sam’s own family.


Upon returning home with visible injuries, Sam’s family appears apathetic. His mother is unbothered by his bruises and generally depressive mood. His father is more violent. After finding texts on Sam’s phone which confirm his sexuality, his alcoholic rage leads him to hit Sam, shouting “No son of mine is gonna be a queer!” It’s implied this isn’t the first beating Sam has suffered at his father’s hands.


Sam’s internal conflict is only worsened by his admission to Reece that he is both gay, and in love with him. The dependency he feels towards Reece, as the only kind and understanding friend he has, is strained by the fact that he needs more than friendship from him now. Their relationship is touching, and sold well by both performers. “I do love you, but not the way you love me,” Reece tells Sam. While this is heartbreaking, there is some comfort to the fact he is at least able to express homosocial affection. The generational difference between them and their fathers gestures towards some hope for changing attitudes.


One of his bullies briefly takes pity on Sam, telling him to go home. As if there is a home to go to. But the idea of an escape to a sanctuary of safety is impossible, as the inside world is just as deadly as the outside. There is nowhere to be himself, and therefore nowhere to be. The conclusion to this tragedy is predictable, and there’s some exhaustion to seeing the same homophobic abuse and self-inflicted end come to fruition over and over again. But at the same time, these educational dramas remain unavoidable as long as they are reflective of true experiences for young LGBTQ people.

About the Film Critic
Isaac Parkinson
Isaac Parkinson
Short Film
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