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Judge Brett Cullum • Location: Houston, TX
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50 Ways of Saying Fabulous - A Blog Review
June 11th, 2006 2:16PM

It's rare DVD Verdict will get a movie before it even hits theatres in most parts of the country, but 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous was sent to us as a screener before it has made it's way theatrically across the country. The film debuted at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival where it was an official selection, and is in limited release at the time of this writing. It just wrapped up a limited run at The Quad Cinemas in New York City. Hopefully it will either slowly unfurl around the country in art houses and GLBT film festivals, or be released on DVD. When I read the plot of the film I feared I was in for yet another cloying story about someone coming to terms with his sexuality, but the unique thing about Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous is it's a "coming out" story told in a wholly unique voice.

Billy (Andrew Peterson) is an overweight twelve year old living on a farm in New Zealand. He doesn't fit in at school, and dreams of becoming a glamorous space explorer he sees on television. Problem is the space explorer is a girl, and Billy is struggling with the fact he's gay. His best friend Lou (Harriet Beattie) is a tough tomboy who can play sports well, and is a headstrong young woman who takes care of Billy who is also her cousin. Billy's little sister Babe (Georgia McNeil) also tags along most of the time. Two strangers enter the story, and Billy's world is changed forever. One is a strange laconic "freaky" new kid at school Roy (Jay Collins) who has just moved from the city, and seems more aware about sexuality than Billy. The other is a strikingly handsome farm hand named Jamie (Michael Dorman). Both of these characters force Billy to come to terms about why he's different.

The New Zealand countryside of Otago and Billy's daydreams of being a science fiction glamazon render 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous a strange cousin to Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures. Both the landscape and the imagined sequences in space seem so surreal we're taken aback by the painfully familiar story that unfolds before us about a boy who never fits in. The movie has a unique take on coming out that feels far more realistic than what usually gets slapped up on American screens. Perhaps it's because the hero isn't one of the "pretty people", Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous seems more honest and brutally real even if the settings and dream sequences feel like science fiction.

Billy isn't a wholly likable character. The story allows him to treat his friends badly, and make the wrong decisions at almost every turn as he begins to discover himself. Particularly painful are his exchanges with Roy who for some reason truly likes him more than Billy will allow. Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous shows kids for what they are - petty and often illogically cruel creatures, instead of mini adults. Although the sexual subject material is adult in nature, this is a film that lets the child actors play real kids.

If you get a chance to check the movie out at a festival or Landmark Cinema it's definitely worth a look. Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous is an entertaining gem of a movie with stunning landscapes and painfully real kids. You couldn't ask for much more from a simple coming out story.


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