June can mean many things to many people. It’s the start of summer, the middle of the year and has the longest day of the year. However, for the LGBTQ+ community, it signals the start of Pride month. In keeping with this occasion, Netflix has released Alex Strangelove: an ode to the confusion that comes with being a teenager, especially if you’re gay. However, was it a home run, or did Netflix drop the ball on this one?
Alex Strangelove follows Alex as he navigates his heterosexual relationship, as well as the possibility of a gay one, all whilst finishing his senior year of high school. It tackles the issue of sexuality, taking on stereotypes and harmful stigmas in this 100-minutes of educative entertainment. With laughs, cringe-worthy moments and an honesty that breathes a new lease of life into gay rom-coms, Alex Strangelove is set up to be a winner all around.
Okay, so it doesn’t quite win at everything. However, it does win at some things – relatable protagonists, the portrayal of confusion and quite a few others. Despite its flaws, this movie has the potential to be a cornerstone in the representation of the teenage LGBTQ+ community within Hollywood.
This movie has taken on a cast of fairly unknown individuals. Daniel Doheny tackles lead character Alex and, his female counterpart, Claire (Madeline Weinstein) are both played by actors who have taken on considerably smaller roles in the past. Despite this, they take to the roles like ducks to water, with Doheny basically carrying the film from the off.
Granted, it isn’t the best acting in the world, but it isn’t the worst either. Some scenes do leave much to be desired, coming off as overly dramatised or just plain cringey. However, other scenes strike the right chord, helping this movie become the rollercoaster of emotions it was destined to be. One scene, in particular, is a huge tear-jerker and demonstrates just how good at acting these young’uns can be.
The film doesn’t just want to pull at your heartstrings either – it’s genuinely a bit funny. The character of Dell (Daniel Zolghadri) in particular cracks the most jokes, with some veering off course, but most landing brilliantly. The humour that is injected into the movie is a good exemplifier of how to treat such a serious topic with an open mind and a light heart.
The plot of the movie itself is brilliantly done. After many years of the LGBTQ+ experience being ignored by Hollywood, this movie tackles it head-on, addressing the many stages of figuring out your sexuality. It shows the different perceptions young people may have in this society – that it’s completely fine to be gay, that you’re just confused, that gender and sexuality are constructs. The diversity within the movie is positive, but the handling of certain issues should have been revisited further on in the movie in order to provide the audience with a better understanding.
This movie could easily be seen as an educational movie for teens who are figuring out their sexuality. It is for a broad spectrum of people – not just preaching to those that are already gay about their own experience. It helps those who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community to understand the experience of those around them: the people in their friendship groups who weren’t quite ready to reveal who they truly are. It’s a story of solidarity and friendship, which is ultimately the greatest thing a teenager could receive.
It also tackles the idea that people who come out as gay, don’t always know straight away. Some people live in denial and it can take a while for them to realise. This movie shows that this process is natural, and demonstrates that being gay is okay no matter when you figure it out. The actual relationship between Alex and Elliot could have been further explored, as at times it seemed like Eliot was just there to move the story along. However, the ending demonstrated how Alex’s anxieties about the entire situation were null and void and the tear-jerking conclusion will leave you with a massive smile on your face.
Alex Strangelove is a movie that should have been made years ago. It tackles a subject that is normal in everyday life, and should be represented within the mainstream media. With movies like this and Love, Simon being released, it demonstrates the positive move towards acceptance and normality that the LGBTQ+ community strive for. This film is brilliantly made, beautifully written and genuinely touching: it’s worth a watch this June.