›› Whole New Thing ‹‹

a film by Amnon Buchbinder.

2005 | 92 mins | Canada.

a highly refreshing approach to human sexuality.

Dave says:

Set within the beautiful snow covered landscape of Nova Scotia, here co-writer and director Amnon Buchbinder notably takes a variant approach to the subject of adolescent sexual awakening, by refusing to detail the precise nature of the sexuality involved.

For thirteen-year-old Emerson (Aaron Webber) finds his welcome at the local middle school, as cold as the rural Canadian environment around him. Not that it helps that the new boy just happens to be the most literate in class, having already written his first book; that of a 500-page Hobbit style novel. Yet when the book of the month is switched at Emerson's request for Shakespeare, such an act results with a love sonnet being delivered in person to his tutors' door; one Don Grant (Daniel MacIvor). Not that he's in. Rather this man of words is out sampling the amenities to be found at his favourite out-of-town rest room!

That the line between the student / teacher relationship is starting to blur here, goes without saying. Only the problem does not lie with Grant; rather with Emerson, who lacks the maturity to see the repercussions of his infatuation with a man old enough to be his father. Then again, perhaps this should be of no surprise, given he's been raised on the new age values of his hippy parents Rog (Robert Joy) and Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins). But with the free-spirited approach of his parents under threat, courtesy of an increasingly uptight father and a mother now seeking sexual relief in the arms of another, something has to give. The question as ever, is what?

Enhanced by the presence of Canadian indie star MacIvor of Beefcake fame, who alongside Buchbinder co-wrote the screenplay and who is every inch the disillusioned teacher of the piece, this is a work that delights in throwing sexual pigeonholes out of the window. Only it's Webber who steals the show, brilliantly capturing the raw emotions of the teenage heart and mind. For this is a boy who remains sexually androgynous throughout, at times looking more girl than boy, if not Harry Potter like; able to get aroused at the sight of a women's breasts, yet all too eager to see his teacher naked in the sauna.

Somewhat let down by an ambiguous close-of-play, this nevertheless remains a highly refreshing and beautifully told work that showcases not so much adolescent sexual experimentation, but rather society's attitude to human sexuality itself. After all and in Emerson's own words: who says you have to choose? A pure delight.

›› screened as part of the 20th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival; 2006.
›› revised: Tuesday, 9th November, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

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