Alex Strangelove is a slightly different take on the sexual-realisation of a teenage boy than we’ve seen before. Sure, we’ve seen white gay men all over the place, and we’ve seen stories of men realising they’re gay whilst they are dating a woman, but this version is a lot more soft and fluffy. Filled with an extortionate amount of cringe, like most coming of age films are, it feels pretty mainstream.
I have to say that my passion for best friend / sidekick characters is also true with this film. Alex Truelove has a great cast of people around him, helping distract from his very white average beige character creation.
We have Claire, the girlfriend, who is pretty liberal, cute and witty. They’re actually a cute couple which makes your gut ache to watch the plot progress but is refreshingly true to many life stories. They’re best friends and she turns out to be pretty cool about all the shit that went down.
We have Dell, the boy best friend, a self proclaimed ladies man (aren’t they all?) short, scruffy, cute, and the main punch line in some of the more gross jokes. But the most important part is how wholesome and loving he is when Alex comes out. More boy-on-boy BFF love please!! Even though he seems to be on the publicly acceptable homophobe spectrum to begin with, he has no real judgment when it comes to Alex’s sexuality.
And finally, Elliot, the boy. Not your usual love interest, he walks the line of masc and femme, very clearly influenced by 80s pop culture, and has a bit of a sad backstory like most gays in media. He finds Alex’s bizarre behaviour charming, if not surprising, and kind of pities him in a ‘awh bless’ sort of sense. He helps Alex figure some things out through honest and sincere conversation which is a nice change of pace.
This film also acknowledges other terms within LGBT+, such as poly and pan, and Alex even briefly thinks he’s bisexual. These are mostly terms used in passing but this is part of normalizing stigmatised cultures and I appreciate the effort made. When Alex approaches the subject of being bisexual to Dell, there’s a nice moment, which explains sexual attraction really nicely. Dell whips out his junk in an attempt to prove Alex doesn’t like men if he’s not interested in Dell’s genitals, but instead Alex says, “I’m not interested in your junk, YOUR junk!” And I, a well known bisexual, liked this moment considering I’ve had varying degrees of this conversation since I was 14.
This also has a focus on safe sex where everyone is always checking the other person has a condom even in one-night hook ups, something else I can get on board with in this film!
One section I didn’t like (but I think I didn’t like it because of how realistic it was…) is after Alex and Elliot’s first kiss. Alex switched from the mild-mannered, awkward and sweet nerd into a crying piss baby. He starts saying it’s all Elliot’s fault it happened even though HE was the one who made a move NOT Elliot and declares that because Elliot wanted to kiss Alex it’s his fault. All very ‘urhhh I’m STR8’!
My one true downfall of this film was just that there wasn’t enough action between Alex and Elliot. I loved what was shown so much that I wanted more of it, it felt very cut short when I wanted more electricity filled silences and phrases with double meanings. I don’t think there was truly enough tension.
This is an easy to watch, silly teen rom-com that will fill you with warm fuzzies. So, if that’s your thing, you’ll love it. I do also think more people can appreciate this film for the smaller details you only catch when you watch it multiple times, and with each view you’ll like each character more.
You can watch it on Netflix.