Alex Strangelove is a frustrating movie for while you want to support the message and journey, then you think about the collateral damage.
|Screenplay By||Craig Johnson|
|Genre(s)||LGBT, Coming of Age, Romance, Comedy|
Since adolescence, Alex knew he had feelings for boys. To what extent? Well, that wasn’t clear. That is until he met Claire and attempted to live as a heterosexual, if not bi-sexual. However, with meeting a boy named Elliot, he cheats on Claire, just by kissing, but tries to reject his feelings for Elliot and continue with this sex pact he has. For, you see, over the course of 8 months, Claire has been trying to have sex with Alex. However, one way or another, he has put it off.
But now, after best friend Dell picks with him, and the Elliot thing, he decides to lock in a date and tries to have sex with Claire. Thing is, his friend downstairs doesn’t really react to her without thinking of Elliot and he blurts out he likes someone else. Which, considering all Claire is going through, like her mom being sick, it makes it where she can’t handle being rejected sexually, and being broken up with at the same time.
Thankfully for Alex though, while their relationship goes up in flames, the friendship survives. So, after having a conversation, Claire pushes Elliot, who hasn’t seen Alex since the kiss, to come to a school dance so they could have their moment. Something Alex tries to put off, for he fears other people’s reaction, but then he gets over himself and voila – he comes out to the whole school.
You’ll Fall In Love With Claire
Any and all frustration that you may have with this movie is just because of how Alex treats Claire. Between her mom being sick, her generally being a good person, and the patience she shows Alex? It makes you hate the fact she is used so that he can figure himself out and that she is so nice and loves him so much to try to hook him up with his crush. Especially since she knows between Alex and Elliot, neither would make the first move.
Which makes the fact she doesn’t end up with someone new at the end of the film depressing.
On The Fence
There is a part of me which wants to recognize, especially with the way the film ends with multiple people’s coming out story, Alex’s isn’t unique. There are many guys who, either while finding or denying themselves, had relationships. The kind which, if they weren’t gay, would be perfect for them. Yet, because they were, it just didn’t work out.
Now, the problem with Alex Strangelove is that you get so invested in Claire and Alex, that Alex being bi and having a boy crush is cool. Yay bisexual representation. Heck, even Alex breaking up with Claire to be with Elliot is an okay idea. However, him cheating, even if it is just a kiss, and you seeing him kind of manipulate Claire to the point of wanting to break up and hate him? Never mind realizing he knew he might have been queer long before her? It brings about these, admittedly unfair, feelings he was using Claire to try to will himself to be straight and it’s frustrating.
And while you recognize it was probably much more frustrating for many to live, it really makes you want to turn your back on Alex. For one, he and Elliot aren’t that cute together, and don’t have much chemistry, so him leaving Claire for him seems like the dumbest decision a rather pensive person could make. On top of that, he cheated on Claire. Not to forget, he also tried to place the blame on Elliot for the kiss by making it sound like he seduced him!
Really bringing Alex to Clay, from 13 Reasons Why, levels of being an infuriating protagonist. One you recognize you should feel bad for, yet also you kind of wouldn’t mind hitting rock bottom for real. Something beyond not getting into Columbia or a serious hangover.
On one hand, Dell is a comical character whose confidence and crush on Sophie makes him appealing. Particularly after she tricks him for information and it leads to him getting a bit emotional. Yet, at the same time, he comes off like the generic comic relief who pushes their straight-laced best friend to live a little. Often leading said friend into avoidable situations which get them in trouble.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
There is a part of me that feels the need to praise the movie for having a more complicated coming out storyline. However, being that Claire was made to be a legit, loving girlfriend, and the way Alex and Elliot came to be, it makes it so you don’t necessarily see the ending as a happy one. Yay that Alex came out to the whole school, and on the internet, but then comes the sucky part of looking at Claire and realizing this boy used her knowing he was gay. Maybe teased with the idea of being bi, but was gay.
Which is why this is being labeled divisive. On one hand, the film gives us a story not often seen when depicting gay teenagers yet the journey leaves you having a difficult time being on the lead’s side. So, if you can get past Alex cheating on Claire, trying to make it sound Elliot seduced him, and can have empathy for his situation, you may enjoy this. However, if you find him cheating and blaming Elliot for the kiss to be real jerk moves, you may come to the same conclusion I did: That this movie should have been a straight drama and dropped trying to make this funny.