Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

[MFA GLBT] The Curiosity of Chance (2006) [2008-05-18]

I got off the Green Line at the MFA, and there was this blond guy with a pink button-down shirt which was partially unbuttoned and I thought, "You're totally going to the gay and lesbian film festival." He was talking to the woman he was with, and they were clearly going to the MFA, and he said, "This is the most adult thing we've done all week." I turned and said, "Seeing The Curiosity of Chance is the most adult thing you've done all week?" He said, "We don't even know what it's about -- we just saw the word 'fashion.' " I said, "It's about a gay teenager who takes lessons from a drag queen -- I think you'll enjoy it." They were walking significantly more slowly than I was, and I was mildly concerned that the film would sell out (it didn't, though it was a pretty full house), so I didn't linger to try to chat them up further. Oh well.

The guy who took my ticket complimented me on my (JNCO) t-shirt :)
Film
The Curiosity of Chance
[IMDb]
8:15 pm
Sunday, May 18, 2008

Remis Auditorium

The Curiosity of Chance by Russell Marleau, (Belgium, 2006, English, 98 min.). It's the 1980s: new wave music and gender-bending fashion are in, and Chance Marquis is out--with a flair. Chance is the new kid at an international high school and target of the school bully. With a military father and scary-strict principal, he is left to seek help from his sweet, geeky friends and a motherly drag queen, who also mentors him as a performer. Chance's object of affection is a handsome varsity jock who keeps Chance guessing until the end. A poignant, funny story chockfull of infectious music. Discussion with director follows screening. Co-presented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and The Theater Offensive. Description adapted from All Movie Guide.

For more information about this film, please visit the official film site.
I like how the credits are done on the school bulletin board -- the costume designer listed on a flyer for a t-shirt design contest, for example.

In the Q&A, the director said it was filmed in Belgium for financial reasons (hence making it an international high school, since he knew most of the cast would have to be from Belgium). They could only afford to fly three actors over from America, so he cast Chance, Levi, and Sir (Chance's father); everyone else is Belgian or Dutch. So Sienna's "bogus accent"? Is the actress' real accent.

I was uncomfortable with the portrayal of Vice Principal Smelker. I get that Chance is an overdramatic teenager, so we hear him talk about how she's circus large and we know that's an exaggeration -- but given the unrealistic sense people often have about size and weight, it makes me uncomfortable. The fact that she reeks is a gag I can understand, but in combination with her size it's problematic.
I liked that she gets somewhat redeemed after the drag flyer fiasco -- she says that kids can tolerate weirdos, but when you rub it in their face (which, okay, he totally didn't do, that was done to him) ... he has to find some way for them to accept him. And she excuses him from school for the remainder of the week to figure something out. Yes obviously as the person in authority she should step in rather than putting the onus on him, but given his first meeting with her, I was expecting her to blame him totally for having brought this on himself and come close to expelling him. She's clearly doing him a kindness, and there's a moment in there that indicates to me that she knows from experience what it's like to be one of the kids who is ostracized.

I loved Levi telling Brad, "Take your best shot," and then easily dodging Brad's fist and then punching him out in one blow, and saying, "That's what I thought would happen."

Twyla tells Chance she doesn't care that he's gay, but most kids do, so if he's already such a big target because of that, why would he exacerbate it by wearing funny hats and stuff?
Chance: "If you have a choice between being ostracized for wearing a funny hat or for being gay, which would you choose?"
I'd never thought of it that way.

Oh, and I love that Twyla asks him when he knew he was gay and he asks her when she knew she was straight and she says she's planning for 18-23 to be her experimental stage :)

I love that Twyla takes them to a 21+ drag show.
Chance presents himself as such a performer in school, but he actually seems uncomfortable initially with the drag queens -- so it seems a little weird to me that Claire says Chance would be a natural. (We the audience have an easy time believing it, but I had difficulty believing that Claire saw it.)

Hank (after Twyla lights up a cigarette): "Those things will kill you."
Chance: "They're like dark alleys that way."

Chance tells Levi that he (Chance) is "infinitely more complicated" than Levi.
Levi: "Is that so?"
Chance: "I don't see any dresses in your closet."

I think Sir treats Chance just fine. Yes Chance is clearly not the son he'd dreamed of, and it's clearly an awkward family situation with the absent mom (during the Q&A, the director said there's a deleted scene -- none of the deleted scenes are included on the forthcoming DVD, unfortunately -- in which I think Sienna reveals to Levi that their mother isn't dead, she just walked out on them) and the military dad and everything, but I don't see Sir seeing a failure every time he looks at his son. He doesn't want the word "faggot" in his house, and I see where Chance is coming from interpreting that as something of a willful denial of who Chance is, but I also think that his problem is more with all the negative connotations of the term than with Chance being gay per se (though since Chance is a performative weirdo and certainly not going to go into the military or anything, I can understand him wanting to reclaim the word with all its sissy connotations).
Chance says, "Nothing I do makes you proud." His dad asks how he would know that, and Chance says: "Every time you look at Sienna I see exactly what that pride looks like." Besides that very first dinner table scene, I don't think we see Sir being really proud of Sienna -- though it is taken for granted that she's an easy part of his life and he's glad about how she's turning out -- but I appreciated that it wasn't just Chance insisting that nothing he does makes his father proud (because that I could see him just being willfully oblivious because he's so convinced that because he's not living into his father's expectations then his father is disappointed in him) but actually making a concrete comparison to the way Sir looks at his two different children.

I love that Sienna always knows what's going on. This is arguably unrealistic, but I don't really care. She's a know-it-all little girl who totally works for me.
Lawrence (Levi's dad) shows up at Chance's house, and Sienna does that deadpan recitation of what's been going on and closes with, "His band goes on at 5. Can we go?" And after a pause her dad kinda grunts, "Get your coat." Heart.

I love how matter-of-fact Sienna is with regard to everything Chance does. She walks in on him in the dress and asks, "Is this your outfit for school tomorrow?" And after Sir leaves, she says, "He wanted to spare your feelings, I could tell, but your eyeshadow is too dark."

Sir: "Why didn't you tell me you were in a band?"
Chance: "I wasn't sure you were ready for another singer in the family."
Sir: "Maybe you should let me decide what I may or may not be ready for. [Beat] But thanks for looking out for me."
Chance: "I've got your back."
Sir: "I'm sorry I haven't always had yours."

When I read "Chance's object of affection is a handsome varsity jock who keeps Chance guessing until the end," I thought: I've seen the trailer how many times now? And the guy totally kisses Chance. I would have called dream sequence, except that in the shot immediately prior, Chance looks really unsure. But in the actual film, after that scene we actually get Chance saying: "I know what you're thinking. Another Chance fantasy sequence. But this is my story." In the Q&A, the director said it's whatever you want it to be (as far as whether it's dream or reality).

Oh, and Hank's briefcase = shout out to Pulp Fiction?
Tags: film festivals: mfa: glbt, film: mfa, movies: watched
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