›› The Curiosity of Chance ‹‹

a film by Russell P. Marleau.

2006 | 98 mins | Belgium - US.

a joyous take on taking pride in being who you are.

Dave says:

With shades of many a John Hughes classic merged with the eighties nostalgic feel of Edge of Seventeen, here we find greatly missed writer and director Russell P. Marleau going out of his way to deliver a joyous take on taking pride in being who you are.

For arriving at his new high school, out 'n' proud student Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrink) knows only too well that homophobia is bound to raise its ugly head in his direction. And sure enough, it isnít long before bigoted soccer jock Brad Harden (Maxim Maes) is to be heard telling Chance exactly what he thinks of people like him. Then again, Brad wasn't the only one giving Chance odd looks upon his arrival, given a top hat complete with cane is far from your standard uniform. But then Chance is no ordinary student. Rather he's a firm believer in the Andre Gide adage: "it is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not."

Not that his outlook on life merits him any favours on the home front and in particular from his widowed father (Chris Mulkey); namely a by-the-rules military man who clearly loves his son, only finds himself struggling to come to terms with his sexual openness, let alone the direct approach of Chance's wise beyond her years little sister Sienna (Colleen Cameron). Seeking relief from the pressures of life at a local drag show, Chance's star performance on amateur night is soon to become the subject of malicious school gossip, courtesy of a photo from the event itself. Yet in having shown the world another side to himself, is Chance destined to find in boy-next-door and aspiring musician Levi (Brett Chukerman), the outstretched hand of sexual acceptance and perhaps something akin to a Beautiful Thing?

Set at an an American high school, confusingly somewhere in Europe - think Belgium, this feel-good tale of being true to your sexual self; be it gay, drag or otherwise, is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, even if certain scenes clearly work better than others. To that end, the film plays heavily on Chance's friendship with college oddball photographer Hank Hudson (Pieter Van Nieuwenhuyze), together with girl-with-attitude Twyla Tiller (Aldevina Da Silva), scenes that seemingly leave little opportunity for Chance to engage in any encounters of the man-on-man kind. Such however is a deliberate ploy by which to keep the 'is-he OR isnít-he-gay?' guessing game going all the way to the end, given Chukermanís straight acting portrayal of Levi is the perfect counterbalance to Hilgenbrink's eccentric and unashamedly OTT turn of Chance.

Sure, the whole affair is somewhat predictable, but that said it's Chance's love for drag that forms the cornerstone of this work, as a powerhouse of eighties hits and gender-bending sexual liberation lay the cinematic seeds for what is to come. For make no mistake, this is a film with a big heart, complete with a Battle of the High School Bands close-of-play that features the choice lyrics: "I live in a different world, I see things my own way," lines that will not doubt resonate with many. Fun, quirky and rounded off with a striptease from Chukerman that's sheer priceless, the result is but a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Simply wondrous.

›› revised: Thursday, 8th September, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

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