Friday, March 1, 2013

The Two of Us (1988)

The Two of Us (1988)


Matthew is a boy who just left school. He is handsome and athletic and believes himself to be gay. He retains a friendship with only one school friend, Phil, who has stuck by Matthew despite hostile reactions from his peers. As their relationship grows more intense, Phil's girlfriend Sharon and his classmates become vindictive and aggressive. The two friends find themselves ostracized by both friends and family and decide to run away. 

Twenty years ago I fell in love with this little gem, its message, and its two extraordinary leads. I treasured my VHS copy of this heart-rending and -warming sixty-minute film, and was delighted to see it available on DVD and, I hope, to find the wider audience it deserves. 

Phil (Lee Whitlock) is an ebullient high school lad who loves two people: his best mate Matthew (stunning Jason Rush), and his banal, mean-spirited girlfriend (Kathy Burke plays her gormless girlfriend). She forces him to choose between them. Considering Matthew's meltingly blue eyes, perfect body, and sweet nature, the choice seems too easy. 

In any case, Phil has no problem with his bisexuality and considers himself twice blessed. But not everyone shares his joy: he and Matthew are taunted, intimidated, threatened, and attacked by schoolmates as well as family, receive no help from school authorities, and are hassled by police. So they take off on their "honeymoon" (about 20yrs ahead of their time) to find a place where they can just be themselves. Cue up 'Somewhere' from West Side Story. They end up at a seaside resort, where Phil's girlfriend shows up and pressures him to return home with her and leave Matthew. In the process, the boys find that the most important thing is that, no matter who is against them, they have each other. 

One cannot help but fall in love with Phil and Matthew as they fall in love with each other. Their beauty, innocence, and struggle for freedom will melt your heart and may even restore your faith in our future. 

It's hard to imagine how such a sweet story could offend anyone but, after much controversy in England, it originally ended up being shown at midnight though it was made for an after-school audience. The BBC at that time, apparently, was reluctance to present a positive picture of loving young gays, or to educate teenage viewers. Such reaction reminds us that we had not, in 1987, come so very far since 1905 when E.M. Forster stated privately that he could not publish his gay novel "Maurice" because it had a happy ending. 


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