Review from the Vault: NOORDZEE, TEXAS

A lonely adolescent suffers the pangs of unrequited love in this poignantly rendered coming-of-ager. The narrative unfolds in a small town on the Belgian coast in the late 1960s and 70s, where introverted dreamer Pim grows up accustomed to neglect from his selfish mother Yvette and petty humiliation from her putative boyfriend Etienne.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film

 

Pim eventually finds succor at the home of Yvette’s co-worker Marcella where he hero-worships her older son, Gino. Meanwhile, Marcella’s daughter Sabrina obviously longs for his attention. Friendship grows into love when Gino, cautioning Pim to secrecy, supplies the besotted boy’s first sexual experiences. But when Gino begins a relationship with a French girl, jealous Pim focuses his wistful romantic fantasies on Zoltan, the hunky itinerant fun-fair worker who comes to board at his house.

Noordzee, Texas, also known as North Sea, Texas, in the US, is a superb coming of age film. If you are a gay man, or woman, you will no doubt feel strong resonations with this film. Minus the absolute cow of a mother in the film and I never really had the extreme isolation of this town I was one of the boys – I was more Gino but I related to Pim more, odd.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film - Jelle Florizoone
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film – Jelle Florizoone

 

In my youth I found myself very much like Pim, extremely afraid of coming out to the point of militant secret keeping and absolute denial, I felt I had the heart of Pim. But like Gino I preferred to think it a phase and, maybe, more as a cover – I dated girl after girl after girl – was quite the lady’s man hahaha.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film - Jelle Florizoone
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film – Jelle Florizoone

 

This town of Texas, in Belgian, is one of the most beautiful towns I could imagine living but at the same time and in this era it is a nightmare and more so for Pim. Imagine having your only family, your mother, be an alcoholic slut who treats you like shit and believes you are competition – she made me so angry in the film. But her character doesn’t appear menacing or even evil, just neglectful and irresponsible, until the end – then I just wanted to stand on her head while it was submerged in a puddle. These were incredibly difficult times for employment and financial hardship and it makes its way through the entire town.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film - Jelle Florizoone
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film – Jelle Florizoone

 

This coming out story is one that has been told many times but the setting, the scenery, the cinematography and the beautiful hearts of most of the odd characters make it more heartfelt than most but also with a hint of comedy that keep the film from going into the doldrums – you and they know they are in a bad situation but no point rubbing it in our faces – make the most of what you’ve got and enjoy the little things seems to work for them.

The acting in this film is quite remarkable. Jelle Florizoone’s Pim is just a superb coming out character, a great actor who is a gorgeous youth and has a huge range of acting talent. His character is so introverted that he says little but conveys a lot. This is a hard thing for actors to do and he has mastered it already. Nathan Naenen’s Gino is just beautiful but also the one that breaks Pim’s heart, I hated him for that because he reminded me of someone from my past. Eva van der Gucht as Pim’s mum is a great actor but I hated the character for what she could do to such a beautiful soul. And finally Thomas Coumans’ Zoltan is mouth wateringly beautiful and a heartbreaker wherever he goes – I hate guys like this because I know I would become a puppy dog and be ruined  By the end of the film I also thought he was a total dick – a vagabond gypsy with thoughts for one person on the planet – himself.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film - Jelle Florizoone
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film – Jelle Florizoone

 

Abundant kudos to first-time director Bavo Defurne who has such a storytelling and visual flair (much credit also belongs to cinematographer Anton Mertens) that everything seems fresh and new. The look of this film is just superb and punchy and colourful – it is such a beautiful film to watch.

 

Noordzee, Texas - gay coming of age film - Jelle Florizoone
Noordzee, Texas – gay coming of age film – Jelle Florizoone

 

For a gay film this is up there in my top ones. It covers all the bases, beautiful film, beautiful actors and acting, stunning visual and spellbinding story. It has closure that is a slight fantasy but one our hearts reach for – just not the one I got from my own story (probably why I am calling it fantasy 

NOORDZEE, TEXAS is playing for the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival and is on Feb 18th and 26th.

You won’t be disappointed in this nice heartfelt film – I award it 9 out of 10 tiaras 

 

4 and a Half Pops