Hettie MacDonald, U.K., 1996, 90 min.
QFest offers a queer classic in “Beautiful Thing,” a widely praised adaptation of screenwriter Jonathan Harvey’s 1993 play. Shy Jamie (Glen Berry) and athletic Ste (Scott Neal) are teen boys who live near each other in the London projects. Both boys think they could be gay, and they finally explore their feelings when Ste is allowed to stay over at Jamie’s place after an incident with his abusive father. There, the boys grow close and open themselves up to the idea of homosexuality, while Jamie's caring mother (Linda Henry) and quirky teen neighbor (Tameka Empson) offer much needed emotional support. Noting that “Beautiful Thing” was released “while the world was still grappling with the AIDS crisis,” The Atlantic writes: “The film was genuinely subversive for its time and place: Depicting gay kids who don’t succumb to the ‘plague’ or ultimately bow to pressure from their bigoted peers was no small thing at a moment stricken by an especially virulent, anti-LGBT mood. Yet beyond the film’s historical significance, Harvey’s story feels especially relevant today because of the diversity, even intersectionality, of its characters — a quality often still missing from newer portrayals of LGBT life.”
James Agnew & Brad Morris