Movie Review (CLOSET MONSTER)

The movie CLOSET MONSTER (2015) is fairly good. Often, the narrative is overly direct with symbolism and outer projection of the protagonist’s state of mind. But, gorgeous, fresh-faced Connor Jessup as eighteen year-old Oscar Madly manages to carry the show with his terrific acting. I admittedly identified quite a bit with the emotionally sensitive lead. Like me, his parents divorced after much contentiousness, resulting in him (and me) developing abandonment and trust issues.

Having Isabella Rossellini do the “voice” of Buffy, his pet hamster(s), both amused and annoyed me. This is just one of those aforementioned inner onto outer “projection” techniques (or whatever one more versed than I in filmmaking lingo would call it) that is overused here, verging on ridiculous. Perhaps that is intentional, to evoke a sense of the absurd that often arises in life. I don’t know, but, juxtaposed with other, darker imagery and music, the movie comes across as uneven in places, indecisive– like the mind of a teenager, I suppose. In addition to Mr. Jessup’s acting, some consistently good elements are the interesting, dynamic soundtrack and Oscar’s artwork, including the assorted costume makeup he has his best friend Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf) wear in some scenes.

I appreciated the dark, interior look and tone to this queer teenage angst film, which centers around a lonely boy whose sexuality gets bound up in the witnessing of a very traumatic event when he’s about nine years old. Some people lack patience for these introspective visual projects. I continue to usually enjoy them, if they’re not overly long, which this one isn’t (with a run time of almost exactly ninety minutes).

Only by the end would I say that the movie began to finally feel satisfying. But, I think the screenplay is not meant to evoke a sense of satisfaction, given the subject matter being child and teenage neglect, isolation, and growing up gay in a hetero-dominated world. Dear Oscar wants and deserves far better than the life he’s presented with and must work extra hard to improve upon. Like him in CLOSET MONSTER, there are so many of us young and formerly young queer folk whose experiences need to be written and filmed about for others to better know and understand. And, so, I’m glad this film was made, even with its limitations/warts and all.

4 thoughts on “Movie Review (CLOSET MONSTER)

  1. My son and I watched this movie together. He loved it and said it was his cup of tea. He felt the mother had abandoned Oscar and that the father was doing the best he could for him. On the other hand, I had a hard time knowing what was real and what was delusional. Your comment, “the movie comes across as uneven in places, indecisive — like the mind of a teenager, I suppose” hit home. It took three times for me to get through it without falling asleep, not from boredom but from sensory overload. Throughout the movie, the father’s inappropriate actions, cynicism, and downright abusive treatment of Oscar and others turned my gut. My son giggled at the scenes where Oscar’s father squirted the kids. I thought he (Oscar’s father) was being inappropriate. You never knew just how far he would go. It was hard to determine how much the mother leaving (abandoning) Oscar affected him. Michael felt she was cold and heartless. I felt she should have taken him with her. The choice of Oscar’s final destination seemed to me as if his mother was yet again passing him on (abandoning) to another’s care albeit a place he might get the care he needed. Thank you for sharing another great movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you found this movie interesting and that your son enjoyed it. I do agree with your overall take of it, including about the father’s wrongful, abusive behavior. While indeed he was doing the best he could with his son after the mother left, he needed to do much better, including get serious mental health help for himself to do so. Mean, abusive behavior to a child and his friends is just that, no matter how emotionally injured a person is who is perpetrating it. And such behavior is not funny or ever okay.

      I wish the movie fleshed out a bit more why the mother left Oscar behind with the dad until he was 18. (Like, why didn’t Oscar eventually move in with his mom full-time after, say, a year or so?) That was something left unexplained. Perhaps her new husband didn’t want him living with them? That will remain an unknown/non-defined context with this movie, which was far from excellent, though good at its core (largely because of Connor Jessup’s terrific acting and some of the good script writing).

      I can see how you would view the mother as passing her son on– yet again– at the end to somewhere else instead of caring for him more herself. She probably did relievingly (if that’s a real word) get that benefit of further avoidance of responsibility and care. She was very selfish and definitely somewhat cold. But, Oscar did want out of town and going to that artist’s retreat was a great beginning of a new chapter in his life. Hence, it was a workable place for the movie to end, giving us viewers a sense of hope for Oscar.

      I felt Oscar was a gifted, sensitive child whose parents were each ill-equipped to raise and care for, let alone understand and help to flourish. And that is such a common tragedy for children, and then for adults too within whatever relationships and environments they find themselves in.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful response. So often for children who live in an unsafe environment, the fear of abandonment is always under the surface. I am not sure if it ever truly dissipates. It seems to pass on from generation to generation. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember, “This is only a movie.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed, and you’re welcome. That movie makes for powerful watching, in significant part due to the effective portrayal of fear of (further) abandonment. Connor Jessup was very courageous and effective to play the role of Oscar so genuinely.

      If you can find the TV show AMERICAN CRIME, which ran for 3 seasons from 2015-2017, Mr. Jessup plays a teenager in the first season and then some other role (probably a teen again) in the 3rd season. I watched him in the first season, where he plays a teenaged boy who is raped at a party (hmm…familiar). The community around him responds to this incident in assorted ways. He is excellent in that role. I would like to see him in the 3rd season as well. He knows how to play angst-ridden and vulnerable very well. Great actor.

      Liked by 2 people

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