Film Review: Sexual Frustration Reigns Supreme in ‘North Sea Texas’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Coming of age dramas are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, but few are ever brave enough to grapple with the profound transitions that occur during one’s teenage years. Young American moviegoers’ first encounter with foreign cinema is often the result of their search for honest and unflinching portraits of sexual awakening and discovery. In terms of sheer maturity, American movies are still woefully below the curve set by most countries. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

One of the best films of the last decade was Céline Sciamma’s “Tomboy,” a captivating French drama about a 10-year-old girl who dresses in boyish clothing and develops feelings for one of her female friends. The picture offered a hopeful twist on Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” by accentuating the healing that occurs when one is true to one’s own identity. Sciamma proved to be as skilled as the Dardenne Brothers in her approach to directing child actors, while somehow finding the impeccably delicate note for each potentially risqué scene.

StarRead Matt Fagerholm’s full review of “North Sea Texas” in our reviews section.

I couldn’t help being frequently reminded of “Tomboy” while watching Belgian filmmaker Bavo Defurne’s feature directorial effort, “North Sea Texas,” a picture of similar ambition. Based on Andre Sollié’s novel, Defurne’s film has the uneven rhythm of a botched adaptation. Character motivations are left perplexingly enigmatic, while the protagonist, Pim (Jelle Florizoone), remains distressingly passive. Perhaps the film is a trifle too successful in externalizing Pim’s dream-laden psyche, as each scene drifts to the next with a startling lack of urgency. Individual moments have great power but rarely do they gel in satisfying fashion. This stylistic choice may have been intentional, since the overarching theme of the film is sexual frustration spawned from unrequited romance, yet that doesn’t make the film any less frustrating. Its last-second stab at an upbeat finale is entirely unconvincing since it goes against everything we’ve learned about the characters during the preceding 90 minutes. Defurne is so determined to provide viewers with an alternative to the standard tragic gay romance (namely “Brokeback Mountain”) that he fails to remain true to his own story. Yet with all that being said, it’s still easy to see why this film garnered considerable acclaim at festivals last year. The fresh-faced cast is so convincing that they keep the audience transfixed even during the script’s weakest patches.

‘North Sea Texas’ stars Jelle Florizoone, Mathias Vergels, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Eva van der Gucht, Thomas Coumans, Katelijne Damen, Luk Wyns and Ben Van den Heuvel. It was written by Bavo Defurne and Yves Verbraeken and directed by Bavo Defurne. It opened February 15th at the Music Box. It is not rated.

StarContinue reading for Matt Fagerholm’s full “North Sea Texas” review.

Jelle Florizoone and Mathias Vergels star in Bavo Defurne’s North Sea Texas.
Jelle Florizoone and Mathias Vergels star in Bavo Defurne’s North Sea Texas.
Photo credit: Strand Releasing

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