“If you could make someone love you,
would you?” asks writer/director Tom Gustafson in his spellbinding
gay musical fantasy Were The World Mine.
The movie, a musical adaption of
William Shakespeare's classic A Midsummer Night's Dream,
has racked up an impressive collection of prizes this season on the
gay and lesbian film festival circuit. In October, it opened the
annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival to huge cheers.
with good reason. Were The World Mine
is a love potion that shuns homophobia at a moment when we seem to be
experiencing the second coming of Stonewall; it is the zeitgeist of a
post-Prop 8 gay community. While we're certain its release at this
moment in history is a mere coincidence – dare we say it – we
could all use a feel-good movie about now, a movie that reminds us
that the course of true love never did run smooth.
High school outcast Timothy (Tanner
Cohen) is obsessed with handsome rugby star Jonathon (Nathaniel David
Becker) in a small homophobic town, when his drama teacher (Wendy
Robie) begins auditions for A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Timothy, cast as Puck, engages in some Elizabethan mischief of his
own when he conjures up a potion that makes Jonathon love him and
turns half the town gay.
Mayhem ensues as men suddenly leave
their wives and girls chase after girls. The mayor begins handing
out gay marriage licenses, saving the first one for himself and his
future husband. But what happens when Timothy reluctantly gives up
control of the town?
Were The World Mine is
Gustafson's feature-length follow up to his award-winning short film
The film brims with energy during its
infectious musical fantasy sequences, where Gustafson has superbly
managed to meld Shakespearean soliloquies to contemporary music.
Cohen's on-screen performance is captivating and his singing voice
electrifying. He brilliantly balances between being a believable
fairy under the weight of a homophobic community and a masculine,
self-assured gay youth.
There's little not to like in the gay
film, but we do take exception to a dissonant, and narrowly pursued,
storyline involving Timothy's relationship with his mother, and her
emerging acceptance of her gay son, which felt unresolved.
monthly The Advocate said of the film, “Hedwig
And The Angry Inch had better move over.”
Were The World Mine opens on
November 21st in New York City, San Francisco and
Berkeley, and on December 12th in Chicago and Los Angeles.
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