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Basingstoke Blues

[whitespace] Get Real
Good Old School Boys: Ben Silverstone and Charlotte Brittain 'Get Real' in Simon Shore's new film.

The minor, likable 'Get Real' chronicles the perils a gay youth faces

By Richard von Busack

THE BEST SCENE in the new movie Get Real takes place in a public toilet--not an ordinary public toilet, but the kind of gathering place playwright Joe Orton was referring to when he wrote, "The men's room is the last bastion of male privilege." The facility is heavily watched by the police of cozy suburban Basingstoke, Hampshire, who are ever alert to homosexuals gathering in the "tearoom," as these places have been called in underworld dialect. Into this park restroom has skulked the horny, awkward--and gay--young student Steven (Ben Silverstone), who hopes to meet Mr. Right Now. Below suggestive graffiti ("If you really love me, be sure to let it show") is the infamous "glory hole" in the wall between the stalls. Steven, waiting, hears an anticipatory rustle from the other side of the steel wall and pretty soon a rolled-up piece of paper emerges. The message reads, "How old are you?"

In this pleasant but minor coming-of-age movie, Steven is hiding his sexuality from the world--from his Dr. Who-worshipping father, his clueless mother and all his friends save one. At his affluent boys school, there are apparently no other gay students, and some violent jocks make sure that the closet door stays bolted shut. But the hand that slipped Steven the note in the toilet belongs to the most admired boy in the school: John (Brad Gorton), a wealthy, popular athlete already on his way to Oxford. John is fighting his inclinations, but--to the shock of Steven, if not of the audience--he ends up in bed with our hero.

The screenplay is by Patrick Wilde, who is no Oscar. Get Real has a tear-soaked finale that was already parodied in the film In and Out. Charlotte Brittain, who plays Linda, Steven's overweight best friend, is the best performer. Despite some stereotypical fat-chick dialogue, in which she laments her sex life, Brittain conveys a sensual intelligence far in advance of her years. Get Real is the gay Rushmore. And as in Rushmore, although you may not believe the aplomb of the students, the witty talk counterbalances the clichés. Of course, that we have a gay cinema both mature enough to be a little explicit and old enough to have more than a few clichés is a sign of progress.

Get Real (R; 110 min.), directed by Simon Shore, written by Patrick Wilde, based on his play, photographed by Alan Almond and starring Ben Silverstone, Charlotte Brittain and Brad Gorton, opens Friday in San Jose at the Towne Theater.

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From the May 13-19, 1999 issue of Metro.

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