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Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
SLGFF ADVANCE: Were the World Mine
Directing: B+
Acting: A
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B
Music: A-

Were the World Mine is such a wonderful surprise, it's easy to give in to the temptation to gush over it. The leads are as talented as they are gorgeous; the story gives a truly refreshing spin on otherwise rote high school (and gay) angst; the music works perfectly in its fairy tale role of truly charming the audience until everyone has a smile plastered on their face.

You see? I'm doing it already! This movie is so much fun, it's easily worth multiple viewings -- but let's take a step back for just a minute. There are flaws, yes indeed -- easily seen if you look at it with a critical eye, and that's the job of a critic, isn't it? The cinematography has a distracting tendency to move back and forth between gorgeous and slightly amateurish; the editing is often much worse, frustratingly cutting that fantastic music short in bizarrely jarring ways. And let's face it, the script -- in which a small town prep school student playing the part of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream finds a way to make his own version of Puck's love potion, then proceeds to use it to make everyone in his school gay -- is kind of bogus, and, let's be honest, corny.

Oh, come on! Who gives a shit? Were the World Mine has such a vibrant spirit, such youthful vigor, and most importantly such infectious music that it works its own love potion on you: this movie is truly irresistible. Any gaps in logic (what the hell is supposed to be in that potion he makes, anyway?) are totally irrelevant. This is about a boy who takes a ridiculously scenic route to finding himself, and joining him for the journey couldn't possibly be more fun.

Timothy (a mesmerizing Tanner Cohen) is a very self-conscious high school Senior, and the object of his affection is rugby player Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker, Cohen's perfect match in the part). Mercifully, although Timothy certainly encounters some homophobia in the school -- and, indeed, the entire town -- this isn't about him coming to terms with his sexuality. He's openly gay, and happy being so, from the very beginning. His problems come in the form of a misguided mother struggling to understand him, the closed-mindedness of the school and town leaders, and his inability to see that Jonathon is totally into him. Oh, and a drama teacher (Twin Peaks's Wendy Robie, milking the part for all it's worth) pressuring him to audition for the Senior Play.

It's Timothy's bitterness at the town's persistent homophobia, of course, that leads to him using Puck's potion to turn everyone gay -- a turn of events that unfolds in some pleasingly unexpected ways. But interspersing all this with the students' performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream gives first-time feature director Tom Gustafson the perfect chance to stage his musical interludes (composed by Jessica Fogle, who truly deserves recognition) in a wonderfully fantastical fashion.

The bottom line, really, is that Were the World Mine is packed to the gills with eye candy, be they the actors or the set design in the fantasy music sequences. On top of that, Cohen and Becker give astonishingly nuanced and solid performances, as they are eminently believable as two young men who can only accurately convey their emotional states in song. Furthermore, the songs are either irresistibly catchy, or beautiful, or both. This movie isn't perfect, but that simply doesn't matter. It's got charm to spare, and it's solid entertainment. And that's what counts.

Tanner Cohen (L) pines for Nathaniel David Becker in 'Were the World Mine'.

Overall: B+
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