The LGBTQ+ narrative in cinema is one that comes with a rather complicated history. From ‘Brokeback Mountain’ right up to this year’s most lauded romance, ‘Call Me by Your Name’, LGBTQ+ stories in film have repeatedly been dominated by drama, tragedy and, more often than one would like, death.
How refreshing it is, then, as a huge fan of queer narratives, to come across Christopher Schapp’s ‘Prom King, 2010’; a lovingly made, wonderfully upbeat comedy revolving around the ecstasies and woes of a young, gay man living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Unlike previous films which document the queer experience, such as ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’, Schapp’s debut is not a coming of age tale, and it is not an exploration of self-acceptance, either.
Rather, it is the story of someone that has already wrestled with their sexuality, that has already experienced a great deal of internal conflict, and that is now ready to take their first steps into a larger world; one filled with possibilities. As a result, it provides a welcome change in tone for the LGBTQ+ genre, and shows that the discussion revolving around queer characters and storylines in film is one that is capable of producing new, exciting pieces that challenge the anguish-laden dramas that we so often come across.
Throughout ‘Prom King, 2010’, the audience continuously find themselves watching helplessly as our protagonist, Charlie, stumbles upon mistake after mistake, ranging from understandably naïve to downright idiotic. Charlie, rather, unfortunately, is the kind of person whose notions of romance come from classic cinema. What this means is that in an age that is ruled by dating apps and whirlwind romances formed online, an idea that is perhaps best described by Lorde in her anthem for the Tinder generation ‘Loveless’, Charlie ends up with his heart broken again, and again, and again. His hopelessness evokes in us a sense of sympathy for him, as we unwillingly recall all those occasions on which we were left humiliated, having happily rejected the advice of our friends and made the decision to pursue an objectively terrible path.
As we watch, burying our faces further into our hands with every passing moment, we are gently reminded that LGTBQ+ people, too, experience the exact same trials and tribulations as heterosexual people do; ones that sometimes end in hilariously unexpected manners, and ones that sometimes leave us aching right down to our very souls. Ultimately, ‘Prom King, 2010’ is a genuine, heartfelt piece that provides a fun, and arguably necessary, switch up to the usual offerings found in queer cinema. It is both a joyous celebration of LGBTQ+ life and an occasional melancholy exploration of modern dating. With a debut like this, I can only imagine the things that are to come for Christopher Schapp.
By Hannah Ryan