A sell-out smash at BFI Flare: While gay marriage is a battle still to be won in Australia, the country has a fairly strong record on LGBT rights, and Sydney is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Australian cinema has had a rather strange relationship with male homosexuality. The Set is the first Australian film with homosexuality as a central theme, while gay men appeared in sexploitation favourites such as Australia after Dark and The ABCs of Love and Sex: Australia Style , in which H was for homosexuality.
The Road Warrior featured a gay villain the leather-clad Wez, enraged by the slaying of his lover , while more sympathetic homosexual characters appeared in prison drama Stir and family melodrama Mull The s were a golden era for gay Ozzie films, while the new millennium has seen a glut of low-budget gay surfer dramas, including the easy-on-the-eye Newcastle , the nihilistic Drown and the downright bizarre Tan Lines Murray Homosexuality was catnip to many of the filmmakers behind the wave of sexploitation documentaries that flourished in Australia in the s, which often served as an excuse to show titillating shots of lesbians getting down to business in the bedroom.
Gay men, if they appeared, were usually shown as unsympathetic, bitchy queens. Not so in The Naked Bunyip, the grandfather of Australian sexploitation, in which a lengthy segment is devoted to a gay male dock worker, who talks candidly about his life. The film itself is a strange mix of high comedy Edna Everage makes an early appearance , slapstick, sensitive studies of social issues and grim references to back-street abortions and gang rape.
The Everlasting Secret Family is one such film, an often homophobic tale of a young man who becomes determined to climb the social ladder and live the high life when he becomes the object of desire of a closeted homosexual politician.
As the boy only one character in the film is given a name grows older, he loses the currency of his youth and risks being expelled from the wealthy life to which he is has become accustomed.
All the more surprising, then, that despite all the fabulous frocks and sharp oneliners, the film is also very moving, not least in its character of Bernadette Terence Stamp , a trans woman grieving the death of her lover who, it is hinted at the end, may find love in the arms of the friendly mechanic the three queens meet on their road trip.
Although this kinetic exploration of masculine identity crisis was a critical hit, it polarised Greek-Australian audiences according to Kokkinos, who noted that older viewers were uncomfortable with the perceived rejection of traditional Greek values. For much of its length, the film feels very post-gay; Isaac Ewen Leslie , our antihero, a moody Greek Australian who unearths some unpalatable family secrets when he returns to Greece following the unexpected death of his father, is certainly not defined by his homosexuality.
What starts as a family drama rapidly slides into horror terrain, and the appearance of a strange, wan boy Kodi Smit McPhee triggers a descent to the dark side. He is dragged into a nightmarish gay underworld, leading to a shocking ending that arrives like a punch to the gut.
Director Tony Krawitz conveys an oppressive, almost Lynchian mood of approaching menace, and the cities of Athens, Paris and Budapest have rarely seemed as unnerving. The plot itself is a gay staple: Mike Tristan Barr develops a crush on William Lucas Linehan , the new boy at school, and the two are assigned to work on a project together, a video reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. Barr gives a performance of great charm as the goofy, gawky teenager clumsily finding first love.
While the final 20 minutes veer into melodrama, overall this is the best of the recent spate of Australian gay teen dramas, and the nearest thing to an Antipodean Beautiful Thing. As Newell, herself the daughter of same-sex parents, states: