Writer: Lee Galea
Stars: Tristan Barr, Lucas Linehan, Rohana Hayes, Jeremy Kewley, Nicola Eveleigh, Marlene Magee, Marcel Reluctant, Katrina Maree
Monster Pies isn't a very well made film, but it's terribly moving. Once it gets more exposure, there's no doubt in my mind that it will be seen as an LGBT cinematic treasure. It's an important film for Australia too, a country that has only had brief exposure to gay themes on television and in film (Priscilla being the most notable film). It took me a while to get into the movie, because it was hard to get past the shabby production value. As the leading actors took their stride and developed an infectious chemistry, the romance took off and led me on yet another incredibly moving experience. Isn't it weird though, that a film like this (which is far from great) is one that I'll never forget. It does pack a punch, and it will stay with you.
We follow the life of Mike (Tristan Barr), who is an awkward teenager that works in a video store, and also gets teased about his sexuality. In his English class, Mike gets paired with an attractive new student, Will (Lucas Linehan), who has a manly exterior, but hidden sensitivity. They have to create a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which forces them to spend lots of time together. As they work on their project, they start having loads of fun and establish a unique connection. It's a coming of age story (which is prevalent in LGBT films), but it's more realistic and moving than most.
From the get-go, it’s obvious that this is an extremely low-budget film. The font of the opening credits, and the horrendously performed opening exchange by Mike and his teacher just left me nervous about how the rest of the film would unfold. In the first 5 minutes alone, we’re exposed to some of the most frequent romance movie clichés in the movie business. The long first glance, helping each other pick up dropped papers, having to share a book in class, being unintentionally over-enthusiastic about seeing him… trust me, this list goes on.
There are some really off-putting things in this movie. One of them being that Mike works in a Video-tape renting store. No, not DVDs, but videos. I haven’t seen a DVD store sell VHS tapes since I was in 5th Grade, so it’s a curious sight to behold. Another thing that put me off was the unoriginal comedy clichés, such as the classic “see anything you like” gag. I don’t know what director Lee Galea was going for, but this film is so aware of itself. Many of the actors don’t know the meaning of the word ‘subtle,’ the script is filled with moments straight out of other movies, and the choppy and amateur style bugged me. I want to have mercy on this film, but then I just wouldn't be honest to myself and my readers. While this grained on me in the beginning, I really got into the film as it focused more on Will.
|Lucas Linehan is an actor to look out for.|
On this sea of bad acting and shabby film craftsmanship, floated the revelation that is Lucas Linehan. His performance is the sunshine that turned the film into a really enjoyable one. There are some pretty great moments in the film, and they ALL include him. One of my favourites being when he looks back at Mike in the side-view mirror of the car. It was quick and subtle, but it showed us that Mike is on his mind. All of the moments where they rehearsed their Romeo and Juliet assignment were… extremely heart-warming. I just felt overjoyed at the ‘wolfman kiss’ scene. They did that really well, and Tristan Barr’s facial expression afterwards was his greatest moment in the film.
As time goes on and the story progresses, everything feels so much smoother and more entertaining. The romance develops nicely, due to the chemistry the leads share out of the blue. After the ‘wolfman kiss’ scene, I really started to get into the character’s and their story. The swimming pool scene, which was also cliché to the max, was done exquisitely. I really liked the metaphor they used to describe the two, and the LGBT community. Mike is Frankenstein, who is feared and misunderstood. Will is the Wolfman, who is trying to cope with his change into a monster. The monsters are the LGBT community, who are hunted by the villagers (ignorant and stubborn people: the real monsters). They used this metaphor as a way to recreate Romeo and Juliet, and I just loved it. I’d give it an 'A' if I was an English teacher. The music really impressed me too, ranging from classical scores like Fur Elise to beautiful love ballads by the school dance band. The second half just took flight and became a really solid film. Well, up until the mother exploded at Mike. When it comes to melodrama, it either has to be done perfectly, or not at all.
I felt really moved by the end of the film because of a lot of things. I absolutely adore the message this film sends to LGBT teens, which is to not be afraid any more. It's so important that kids know to come out and be who they are, because this world will never change unless people are honest with themselves. There was a really touching song that played too, which almost moved me to tears. Most importantly, it was because of the moving performance by Lucas Linehan, who was the heart and soul of the film. This isn’t a refined film, but its message and emotional impact managed to make me like it a lot.