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Objective look at gay coming-of-age

June 25, 2004|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

One of the ironies of gay liberation is that contemporary teenagers feel a greater need and increased pressure to come out, only to meet equally heightened hostility from many straight kids, in a backlash fueled by the insecurities of coming of age, regardless of sexual orientation. In generations past, gays stayed in the closet and hoped they could make it through their teens as unobtrusively as possible. Now young gay people face options that can be challenging and even dangerous should they act upon them.

The French film "You'll Get Over It" illuminates the predicament of today's gay teens with compassion and perception. Directed by Fabrice Cazeneuve, the film has a complexity that suggests it has been drawn from personal experience, which may well be the case: Screenwriter Vincent Molina has given his name to his 17-year-old hero.

Vincent (Julien Baumgartner), the star of his school's swim team, dates a beautiful girl, Noemie (Julia Maraval), who's in love with him, but he is also having a secret affair with a man in his 20s. Time and again Vincent tries to come out to his family, which is of modest means, and to friends but feels too frightened to do so and, therefore, presses on with his double life. Then a new student, Benjamin (Jeremie Elkaim), appears on campus and promptly turns Vincent's ordered life upside down. Benjamin is an intellectual, a rebel who doesn't care if people know he's gay. He instantly sees through Vincent, whose secret he carelessly reveals.

"You'll Get Over It" has to do with how Vincent and everybody else react to this casual outing, which could endanger Vincent's chance at a sports scholarship. The reactions range from the anxious concern of Vincent's mother to the extreme homophobia of Vincent's swim teammates. Much of what Vincent faces has to do with the fact that he lives not in Paris but in a much smaller city. Big-city anonymity isn't an option for high-profile Vincent: He must stand up for himself or run away.

"You'll Get Over It" expresses a mature, detached understanding of all involved and resists judging anyone. There's a naturalness to the entire cast, yet there is considerable depth to the portrayals, and the interplay between the characters is exceptionally rich and nuanced. "You'll Get Over It" is firmly anchored by Baumgartner's centered, understated performance. His most winning moments, and those of the film itself, occur when he allows Vincent a private smile at moments of triumph large and small.

*

'You'll Get Over It'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Times guidelines: Mature themes, some nudity, some sexuality.

Julien Baumgartner... Vincent

Julia Maraval...Noemie

Jeremie Elkaim...Benjamin

A Picture This! release of a Capa Drama and M6 Metropole Television presentation. Director Fabrice Cazeneuve. Producers Herve Chabalier, Claude Chelli, Christophe Chevallier. Screenplay Vincent Molina. Cinematographer Stephan Massis. Editor Jean-Pierre Bloc. Music Michel Portal. Production designer Olivier Raoux. In French, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes.

Exclusively at the Fairfax Cinemas, Beverly Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue, (323) 655-4010.

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