Director Tom Gustafson’s musical fantasy finally arrives on DVD June 9, after winning rave reviews, as well as numerous awards at film festivals, including the Audience Award at the Florida Film Festival and Best Music at the Nashville Film Festival. Gustafson based this feature-length project on his short film Faeries, and co-wrote the screenplay with Cory James Krueckeberg.
When a gay teen faces constant bullying, the last thing he wants is to play the faerie Puck in his senior class’s production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His drama teacher insists, though, sending him on a musical odyssey.
Tanner Cohen plays the gay teen, Timothy. Cohen previously appeared as Tad on CBS’s As The World Turns, as well as in stage and film roles. He is also part of the pop duo The Guts (http://www.myspace.com/ilovetheguts). Like his work with The Guts, this film’s soundtrack puts Cohen’s smooth vocals to emotional use.
Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie), the drama teacher, encourages Timothy to look for the meanings in the sometimes confusing words of Puck. Instead of just meaning, he finds a hidden recipe for a spell that turns people gay!
Timothy first dreams of using the spell on the object of his crush, the handsome rugby player Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker). That seems to work, but the plan quickly goes awry, and Timothy finds his town going from homophobic to homosexual.
Despite the comical tone, this film reminds me a little of Lillies, another film in which a play becomes blurred with fantasy and the real lives of the play’s actors. Fans of that film might enjoy this inventive musical, but it should also appeal in general to fans of gay films or musicals…not that those groups don’t already overlap.
The fantasy elements work within the world of the film, as Gustafson focuses more on emotions, imagery, and music than realism. The resulting film not only looks good and sounds good but also feels good. Gustafson delivers a light-hearted celebration of love, individuality, and acceptance, worthy of the acclaim this movie has received.
Besides the talented actors I already mentioned, Were The World Mine benefits from many more. Some cast members ground the film with dramatic performances, such as Judy McLane as Timothy’s mother and Zelda Williams as one of his friends. Others shine in purely comical roles, such as Jill Larson as a cosmetics guru and Christian Stolte as the insecure coach.
Everyone involved obviously gives all, resulting in a movie that will demand repeated DVD viewings. The music often leans more toward pop than to Broadway, giving it a wide appeal that should help it transcend the audiences I mentioned before. I recommend it for anyone who would like an unusual movie experience.
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