Sunday, March 2, 2014

Were The World Mine

So, in 2003, there was a little short film titled Fairies that made the rounds at film festivals. The short peeked in at a couple days in the life of Timothy, a homosexual boy who attends a private school that only teaches boys. He particularly has a crush on Jonathan, one of his classmates.

In one of his classes, Timothy and his fellow classmates read A Midsummer Night's Dream aloud, and the teacher (Wendy Robie) tells them that their next class will be onstage. While preparing for the class at home, Timothy finds a recipe to make the Love-In-Idleness flower from the play. Realizing that this would make Jonathan fall for him, he makes it, climaxing with the musical number "Were The World Mine," a song composed completely of lines from Shakespeare's play.

Timothy uses the flower on Jonathan the next day, and after a triumphant finish that seems to dip into fantasy, we see Timothy and Jonathan together, surrounded by the suddenly flamboyant rugby team and coach.

The film seems to have been well-received. The concept was certainly intriguing, but some suggested to director Tom Gustafson that it needed to be longer. So, work began on a new feature-length version, which ultimately hit film festivals in 2008: Were the World Mine.

To be open, I prefer the feature length version. Fairies makes Timothy distant and a little creepy in his idea to use a magic flower to compel a (seemingly heterosexual) boy to love him. Also, perhaps it was the recording, the sound mix, or his voice, but "Were The World Mine" as sung by James McKay is a little grating. Also, the tone of the short quickly goes from surreal to goofy.

In the expanded form, the story flows much better. We discover more about Timothy (Tanner Cohen) as he is bullied by his schoolmates, and it becomes clear that one of the reasons why he likes Jonathan (Nathaniel David Becker) is because he's actually kind to Timothy. The clunky reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream has been changed to a school play, led by Ms. Tebbit (again played by Wendy Robie, the lone cast member from Fairies to reprise her role), who encourages Timothy to come out of his comfort zone as she casts him as Puck. We also discover a little more about Timothy's home life as we also spend more time with his mother Donna (Judy McLane) who deals with having an openly gay son in a less than tolerant town. (It's suggested that Donna left her husband because of Timothy's sexuality.)

A very welcome change is that the giggling and goofy Angie from Fairies has been replaced with Frankie (Zelda Williams) and her boyfriend Max (Ricky Goldman). Frankie strums on her guitar and sings ditties, claims to be "heteroflexible" ("I'm straight, but shit happens"), and by special invitation, gets to appear in the play at the end of the movie.

The film is able to feel surreal at its more relaxed pace. In the first few minutes of the movie, Timothy takes a dodgeball to the face, but just before it strikes him, it freezes in mid air and as he looks out, the other boys do a gentle dance. Some scenes aren't clear as to how much actually happens and how much takes place in Timothy's fantasy, but it doesn't matter in the end as you realize that it has a very real effect on the main characters.

With these alterations and a lot more breathing room, Fairies is remade until Timothy makes the flower. He accidentally sprays Max with it, making Max fall for him, and causing a rift between him and Frankie. After spraying Jonathan, he uses it to make the other boys at school fall for each other and the coach to fall in love with the principal, who didn't get sprayed. Feeling empowered, he begins to spray people in town, soon changing a seemingly homophobic community into one where homosexuals can live openly. However, when parents raise objections, Ms. Tebbit approaches Timothy about what he's done. Even if it makes people more accepting of others, is an induced love a good idea?

The film has a very good, empowering message to embrace who you are. There's also a good little twist, and the music is lovely. "Were The World Mine" is joined by five other Shakespeare-derived songs, as well as a few that are original in their lyrics. Also on the soundtrack is "Relax, Take It Easy" by Mika, and "The Magic Position" by Patrick Wolf. The soundtrack presents several great songs, though it cuts out the licensed music, so you got to track that down yourself.

I did. Which will be the subject of my next blog.

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