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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Fanfik ***

Starring: Alin Szewczyk, Jan Cieciara, Krzysztof Oleksyn, Dobromir Dymecki

Director: Marta Karwowska

Country: Poland

In a high school in Warsaw, Tosiek (Szewczyk) comes out as a trans boy just as Leon (Cieciara) – a gay student from out of town – arrives at the school. The latter has learnt that if he makes people laugh they’re more likely to like him, whereas the former cares much less about public opinion, channelling most of his energy into an online fan fiction blog about a band that he’s obsessed with. Leon starts a relationship with Konrad (Olkesyn), the other gay in his class, but as he and Tosiek spend more time together a love triangle ensues. But all the while, the homophobic bigots begin to circle and the three of them are forced to galvanise to stand up to the toxic environment brewing around them.

For a country known for its institutional hostility toward LGBT+ people this a bold coming-of-age movie with a trio of relatable teen leads. Each has a different approach to dealing with the prejudice around them, but it’s Konrad’s meek and simple personal expression that angers the bullies the most. It’s the kind of film that would seem dated if it came from most of the EU, UK or US, but because of the status quo in Poland its message rings with more urgency.

Unfortunately it suffers from a narrative that really has been played out countless times before. Tosiek is distinctly of the 2020s, but the teen movie genre was saturated by similar – and better – films in the 90s and 00s. Relying on archetypes, its supporting cast is a collection of characters whose existence doesn’t extend beyond their narrative function. And their school seems only populated by a handful of students and teachers.

The titular fan-fiction gives occasional diversions from the narrative, but beyond serving as a vessel to exhibit Tosiek’s fully-formed male identity, it feels like a messy add-on to an otherwise non-offensive film. A film that might feel daring on a domestic stage, on an international one it blends into the white noise of the extensive Queer Canon.

UK Release: Out now to watch on Netflix


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