The 2016 drama "teenage kicks," which is a recent DVD release from gay-themed art-house god tla releasing, arguably is the best coming-of-age film of any type in the past few years. It centers around Eastern European teen, who is just beyond the edge of seventeen, Miklos "Mik" Vargas. Mik lives with his old-world parents in Australia and is best friends with dreamy blond Australian surfer boy Dan.
A related notable aspect of "kicks" is that Mik is easy on the eyes but is not the doe-eyed twink with designed clothes and an over-scrubbed face that characterizes his cinematic older brothers in similar films of the '90s. In avoiding this dated cliche, writer/director Craig Boreham nicely follows the modern trend of recognizing that boys who like other boys otherwise often are no different than their buds who like girls. This is consistent with the laid-back attitude toward male intimacy that pervades "kicks."
The following YouTube clip of the "kicks" trailer offers a good look at the drama, themes, and artistic homoeroticism of the film.
"kicks" starts out well with Mik and Dan on the bed of the latter watching lesbian porn. In typical closeted gay-boy style Mik clearly is more interested in watching Dan engaging in the same under-the-pants jacking as Mik than the action on the screen. One can imagine similarly minded lads across the globe finding themselves in the same situation.
Mik literally keeping it in his pants in this scene is an early clue that "kicks" is much more substance than cheap thrills. The similar glimpses of nudity and largely non-explicit sex scenes reinforce this theme.
Mik is already tortured between his unrequited love and his even more family drama than a typical teen when he becomes burdened with information that he must keep secret regarding the accidental death of slightly older brother Tomi.
The nature of the accident and the bond between the brothers further prompts Mik to strive to literally and figuratively fill the shoes of Tomi. Boreham sensitively shows the basis of this love in flashbacks that illustrate the closeness of the siblings and puts the events related to the death of Tomi in context.
Additional drama comes in the form of Dan getting a steady Betty. The pair actively including Mik in most of their plans and the Sheila going out of her way to be nice to Mik does not stop him from feeling like a third wheel and a rejected lover.
Sticking to the script of every coming-of-age story, Mik losing the battle to suppress his feelings toward his buddy leads to a somewhat predictable confrontation. This encounter leads to a less predictable and more forceful expression of frustration. At the heart of all this is the universal truth that activity (such as mutual covert masturbation) that is merely roughhousing or youthful exuberance to a (mostly) straight boy often means much more to a closeted gay buddy. Indications that a partner-in-crime may be less straight than asserted can further complicate things.
Boreham provides a good ending to all this that largely is realistic. The boy may or may not get the boy, and Mik may or may not put all or some of his demons to rest. However, our hero does get a chance to express himself and otherwise try to work out the many issues that make his life more compelling than that of many of us. In other words, Boreham offers a character study of a real live boy.
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