Golden Delicious ***
Starring: Cardi Wong, Chris Carson, Parmiss Sehat, Ryan Mah
Director: Jason Karman
Jake (Wong) is seventeen, has a girlfriend (Sehat) and is in his final year of high school. His father (Mah) is determined that his son fulfils his own childhood dream of becoming a basketball star, but Jake is somewhat reluctant. But when the handsome and openly gay new kid, Aleks (Carson), joins the squad, suddenly he’s far more interested in trying out for the team.
A classic teenage coming-of-age movie, the chemistry between Jake and Aleks is palpable, with the pair’s bromance becoming – of course – an actual romance. There’s a lot of flesh on show for a high school movie, but this underpins Jake’s gradual sexual awakening, alongside his tentative steps into sexual activity with his girlfriend. But unlike the dogged insistence of bisexuality in this year’s Heartstopper, Jake just is what he is.
All the tropes of teen cinema are here; conflict on the home front, a nasty bully in school, sport meaning as much as relationships, a wise sister with a refreshing outlook on the narrative. The stakes are fairly low, however, because with his family and friends instilled with the social values of Canada in 2023, nobody even blinks when his newfound sexuality is revealed. The only real divergence is within himself. And his veritable dream-boat boyfriend is there to guide him through.
The film runs long at a full two hours, but it’s well-made and entertaining teenage idealism that does a sturdy job at depicting the modern experience of a sexual awakening. Teen audiences will lap this up, but for those well-versed in the coming-of-age genre, this is fairly tepid fayre.
UK Release: 30th October 2023 on VOD and DVD, released by Peccadillo Pictures