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.