Film response: Teenage Kicks

In this never-coming-out story from Australia, I was not amused by yet another gay-male rape scene presented as a plot point or character catalyst rather than as what it is. Fantasy or self-punishing wish fulfillment? Who cares? It's shitty writing.

Teenage Kicks
Directed by Craig Boreham
98 mins, Australia, 2016

Originally published in a different form on Letterboxd.

Within a few minutes of this mostly forgettable, Australian film’s opening scene, shown in this post’s featured image, I had already predicted the first “twist,” and most of the other ones, too: Well, here comes an accident and probably a death.

I was exactly right. Determinism isn’t hard to detect.

Except for that opening scene — the film’s only genuine observation and angst-free interaction — in which two buddies watch lesbian porn together and come close to using that as a bridge to doing other things, too — although they’re interrupted by Dad — what unfolds next is hours of boring self-recrimination and weightless guilt (or at least what felt like hours).

Here’s a selection of what happens: a sexually repressed dude kisses his best friend after a shower scene and then his friend punches him (they never talk about it until a longed-for(?) rape eventually solves everything, as it does); a brief swerve into Sid-and-Nancy-style heroin addiction, easily shrugged off somehow and represented by a ridiculous minute-long montage; an attempted suicide by backyard-pool drowning, thwarted by the best friend for whom it was performed; and on and on and on.

But there was one surprise that my tired and cynical soul could not have predicted — that our hero, the sexually confused, self-pitying cipher, would end up paying his rapist for the privilege. The rapist takes the money from his victim’s hand and leaves, something that the two friends were supposed to do together, you know, before the rape. Why they were so hyped to leave, we never find out and the film has no interest in telling us, either. I mean, it looked OK to me. Nice pool, the beach, plentiful beer, surfin’ buds, and all.

That’s what love will do to you, I guess, when you don’t know who the fuck you are or what you’re doing. (I’m talking about the filmmakers, not the characters. We can’t blame them.)

Teenage Kicks represents a new low for confused, self-hating, homosexual cinema.

As you can see, the film can seduce us with its seductive framings.

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