I’d been waiting to watch Alex Strangelove for a really long time. After the remarkable success of Love, Simon it feels like the doors have opened up and movie makers have made leaps and bounds in the process of showing LGBTQ+ characters on screen and normalizing non-straight relationships.
Alex Strangelove is quirky and sometimes completely crazy (who licks a frog?) but it got me hooked within minutes. It’s wonderfully made and I would watch it again for sure!
The movie revolves around Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) a young teenage boy who assumes he’s straight and tries to get through life (stumbling like he has three left feet along the way). He’s never had sex, which results in a lot of teasing from his friends, but there’s never any real bullying which makes the film a lot more realistic, not all teenage boys are heartless animals (at least that’s what I’d like to believe). Alex believes he’s waiting for the right girl, who he believes he’s met when he sees Claire (Madeline Weinstein), a new girl in class. They make a hit vlog “Savage Kingdom High” and seem perfect together really, except for the undeniable lack of chemistry. Honestly the two seem more like BFFs than anything more. When Claire jokingly mentions to Alex’s friends that they’ve never done it together, he’s super embarrassed. Thus, they make the ‘decision’ to finally sleep together. The boy being more nervous than the girl, is a first and feels very different from your average teen movie. The way Alex approaches having sex is comical to say the least. He’s very methodical and seems terrified at the idea of it all, which, I do feel bad for him but the hilariousness of the situation makes it a little hard to sympathize.
Along the way Alex meets a boy named Elliot at a party. Now slow-spoken and gorgeous Elliot is clearly the stuff of Alex’s dreams and his tongue-tied reactions are adorable. Eventually, when he finally fails to ‘get it up’ with Claire, along with him steadily falling for Elliot, he starts to accept that he’s gay though there’s still a lot of confusion before he admits it to Claire and is true to himself.
At prom, Claire invites Elliot and Alex does get his cheesy happy ending, but there isn’t much shown except the two boys dancing together and a few kisses here and there. The extent to which they showed Claire and Alex doing the ‘do’ is never shown between Elliot and Alex and their relationship is kept fairly tame. But it does go a bit further than Love, Simon where the height of intimacy was a chaste kiss on top of a Ferris wheel.
However, the pain of being undesirable is still fresh and ever present and we watch as Claire does what she knows is best for her ex-boyfriend but the fact that he never loved her like she did him stings. We feel her pain, we really do and it’s bittersweet watching Alex slow dance with Elliot at prom. Madeline Weinstein brings Claire to life perfectly and I love her for that.
Watching the clumsiness and sometimes utter horror with which Alex goes through life feels nostalgic and that’s why I loved it. Even though the movie seems to be set in a time when students are comfortable with the LGBTQ+ alphabet, there’s still points where Alex is scared of what his friends will think, which does happen in reality in schools today too. This shows that we’ve still a got a lot to go in making ‘coming out’ not a thing and kids just introducing each other’s partners without a ‘coming-out’ warning in advance.
That being said, go watch Alex Strangelove, the cast has done a fantastic job. You’ll laugh, you might even cry but you’ll love it for sure!