Monday, April 21, 2014

The Edge of Seventeen is a 1998 film by writer Todd Stephens.

That's Andersen Gabrych and Chris Stafford. It's all about coming out in 1984.

The film was written by David Moreton and Todd Stephens, and stars Chris Stafford, Tina Holmes, Andersen Gabrych, and Lea DeLaria.

Eric (Stafford) is a Eurythmics-obsessed teenager coming to terms with his sexual identity. Eric and his best friend, Maggie (Holmes), take jobs in food service at the local amusement park and befriend the lesbian manager, Angie (DeLaria), and another worker -- the gay high school graduate Rod (Gabrych). Sparks fly between the two boys, but Rod is going to college and Eric is entering his last year of high school...

There's a real dynamic here that few gay-themed films manage to capture. Eric is not really closeted. But he's also not being faithful to himself. He wants to be more "out there", but he's scared and alone. When he meets Rod (and is away from the rigid caste-system of high school), Eric finds the courage to be more what he wants to be, and his transformation is amazing.

But there's also the friendship side to the equation. Eric's best friend is Maggie, because Eric is gay. He finds camaraderie with a girl, who doesn't threaten him physically the way the violently homophobic men do. She also doesn't attract him sexually, so Eric's homosexuality can lie quiescent. This all begins to change when Eric meets Rod. And Maggie feels, quite naturally, dumped. The supposedly deep friendship she shared with Eric evaporates. It isn't that Maggie felt a secret crush on Eric (gay men representing, somehow, the vision women have to what "straight men should be"). No, it's that she begins to realize that her friendship with Eric was based on sand. Once Eric matured as an individual, that friendship was bound to wither. Maggie ends up hurt and angry about it...

The Edge of Seventeen is considered one of the best gay films ever made. And rightly so.

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