"21st Century Romance"
A Review of "Prom King, 2010" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Christopher Schaap, Writer: Christopher Schaap, Starring: Julia Weldon, Justin L. Wilson, Mikaela Izquierdo
Rating: 5 Stars, SHOWTIME!
For my 12th film of the 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival, I saw a film that hit a little close to home. "Prom King, 2010" is the directorial debut from Seattle University's own Christopher Schaap. The film focuses on Charlie, a young gay man living in New York City. Charlie is like many of us. Popular culture, movies, and the ideals of others have influenced his idea of romance. As the film moves forward, he is forced to come to terms with the fickle world of dating in college, the sometimes non-committal world of being gay, and his classic ideas of romance. When all of these elements are combined together, you get one of my favorite films of the 2017 festival.
Throughout the film, we find Charlie returning home to a supportive mother and a father who doesn't say much. He also encounters friends who are just as supportive but find themselves in a place of wonder that comes to dominate most people's twenties. These moments are a measuring stick for him. It is a way for him to measure himself against the world to see his own progress. Sometimes he walks away disappointed. Sometimes he walks away with a sense of pride. This introspection is real and important as we all make our way through the world and as we navigate the minefield that is the modern world of dating.
Charlie is idealistic. Classic romance movies have influenced the way in which he sees the world. As a gay man, he wants a love like those he sees in the flickering pictures on the screen. The scenes of him getting lost in these ideas are important for a couple of reasons. First, it shows everyone, gay or straight, hungers for a love offering classic ideas of romance. Secondly, it shows Charlie as an oddity in a world where people swipe left or right for love. One of the best scenes in the entire movie takes place on the night of his 21st birthday. Charlies makes his first legal trip to a gay bar and feels completely out of place. He finds himself surrounded by couples and those cruising the scene. Needless to say, he feels out of place because everywhere he looks is examples of people who fly in the face of his worldview.
Toward the end of the movie, Charlie does find someone he can connect with on a deeper level. It is here Charlie experiences the dark side of romance, the side no one ever tells you about and is often left out of the movies, the break-up. These events are some of the most sincere in the entire movie. They are also necessary. Having our hearts broken is important. It helps us grow and learn about ourselves. For these lessons and many others, I cannot recommend this film enough.
Be good to each other,