Let your freak flag fly!
In a year that is seeing Love, Simon making a genuine case for a mainstream LGBTQ+ romantic comedy in the bankable teen box office market, Freak Show is perhaps a lesser known offering, but it is as deserving of the attention that the aforementioned is also getting.
Also based on a novel, Freak Show is a film which embraces the outlandish, the fabulous, and its openess and warmth is something which is engaging from the off. It is a little more biting in tone than Love, Simon which does suffer from a cliche-ridden script, and whilst Freak Show does have a couple of eye-roll moments towards the end, there is a tremendous amount of wit and sass behind the script which go in its favour. After impressing in Black Mirror episode ‘Shut up and Dance’ and Netflix series The End of the F***ing World, Alex Lawther is on fine form as the enigmatic Billy Bloom.
Whilst the character embraces their outrageous persona, there are also softer moments of genuine humanity as Billy learns to stick a firm middle finger up to the naysayers and truly embody everything that makes him wonderful and unique. At it’s core, Freak Show has some wonderfully positive messages of inclusion and tolerance, encouraging us as an audience to embrace our inner “freak”; standing out is very much the new fitting in in this world!
More than anything, Freak Show is incredibly funny, anchored by the star turn from Lawther and a fantastic love-to-hate performance from Abigail Breslin, and there is universal appeal beyond the LGBTQ+ community.
There are some slightly distracting cameos which do take you out of the fantasy somewhat, and some of the characters are a little one-dimensional. However Freak Show is in many ways a “high school” comedy/drama so these cliches and stereotypical characters are to be expected; this is definitely something Love, Simon falls foul of as well.
Ultimately, the positive message and the atypical nature of the central character are able to counterbalance this however, making for an enjoyable, consistently funny, and intensely likeable film that is definitely worth seeking out upon its official release.