›› Edge of Seventeen ‹‹

a film by David Moreton.

1998 | 99 mins | US.

a vibrant coming-of-age classic of yesteryear.

Dave says:

So many gay films out there and somehow this wondrous work has inexplicably slipped through the reviewing net; until now, that is.

Set in the summer of 1984, it tells the story of seventeen-year-old Ohio high school student Eric (Chris Stafford); an aspiring songwriter who's still to embrace his gay side, with his best friend Maggie (Tina Holmes) all but his girlfriend to the outside world, the two ever seen in each other's company. Only that bond is set to be tested when they take on summer jobs at a local amusement park, serving food under the ever watchful eye of hard-working, but fun-loving boss Angie (Lea DeLaria). It's a situation that soon finds Eric in the company of openly gay and sexually confident co-worker Rod (Andersen Gabrych). Seemingly torn between his affection for Maggie and his lust for Rod, something has to give and when work at the amusement park gives way to nights out clubbing at Angie's gay bar, a sexually confused Eric must finally decide on which side of the Kinsey scale he lies?

Winner of many an audience award, here director David Moreton, alongside writer Todd Stephens have crafted a vibrant coming-of-age feature, as set to a pulsating mix of music from the likes of the Eurythmics, Bronski Beat and Haircut 100. Yet whilst DeLaria naturally shines as the mother figure of the piece, her ever compassionate nature sounding the reassuring line "you just have to accept that it's okay to want another guy," it's Stafford who holds your attention throughout, achingly expressing the mixed emotions of a young man caught in the middle of the ups and downs of to thy ownself, desperately trying to be true. Only and in as much as Stafford wonderfully showcases Eric's coming out journey; from his first sexual encounter with another man, to that of his tentative steps on the gay scene, it's Holmes as close friend Maggie and Stephanie McVay as his mother who poignantly depict the feelings of two women who need time to adjust to Eric's newfound sexuality, given the hurt they feel at having been lied to and in Maggie's case used.

With close attention to period detail in the days when vinyl and tapes were the musical norm., above all this roller coaster ride of teenage emotions, angst and sex vividly details the reality of a young man finding the inner strength to accept his true sexual calling in life. Beautifully played by one and all, this is but a gay cinema classic of yesteryear, being simply wondrous.

Footnote: McVay would later reprise, if not completely send-up her character as the mother of a gay son in Stephens' OTT gay comedy Another Gay Movie - cue the almost identical set and clothes, whilst DeLaria went onto major acclaim as a noted actress, comedian, writer, director and jazz singer; here closing the film with a lush rendering of Blue Skies. Stafford on the other hand had by 2001 sadly all but vanished into the cinematic void and that's a shame, given his spirited and frankly compelling performance.

›› available as part of the TLA RELEASING catalogue: 26th September, 2005 / UK.
›› posted: Monday, 9th January, 2023.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› copyright © 2023 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
›› archive reference #2023001 ‹‹
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