Set in the 1980s, Paul (Bradley Cross) is a 16-year-old, shy, Rochdale lad who heads with his mum on holiday to a camp site in Wales. There he meets Londoner George (Joe Gosling), who’s far brasher than Paul and also unafraid to skirt the law, such as shoplifting and drinking. They strike up a friendship, which by the end of the holiday has developed into something more.
The lads agree to meet at the camp the following year, at which time they plan to run away together to Australia. Paul spends the next 12 months saving and waiting for the day he’ll be reunited with George, but will his boyfriend turn up?
There aren’t that many British gay-themed films released each year, so it’s always good to see one. Whilst Dream On isn’t perfect, it’s very watchable and keeps you entertained across its 95 minute running time. While Bradley Cross and Joe Gosling initially seem a bit old to be playing people in their mid-teens, they quickly grew on me, particularly Cross, who does a good job of portraying a young man who’s trapped by a needy, slightly domineering mother and suddenly sees the opportunity for a life with something more to offer.
There are a few issues though, many of which are due to the film not fully escaping its stage play roots. There’s a tendency towards the characters’ default mode being to shout and be overly dramatic with one another, which may work in the heightened environment of the theatre, but here makes people seem unnecessarily angry with each other much of the time.
Dream On also veers heavily towards the melodramatic end of the spectrum, with everyone feeling an awful lot of emotions that they need to express in a slightly overwrought fashion. This could have completely ruined the movie, but it always manages to stay true to the heart of its characters, so while it might have helped if it had realised film is often better underplayed as opposed to overplayed, it still works. I did feel the ending was a bit over the top, but thanks to Bradley Cross and his reaction to what’s going on around him, it comes through.
Writer/director Lloyd Eyre-Morgan holds together what could very easily have gone too far into over the top melodrama. It may have worked a little better if he’d reigned things in a bitmore – so often with this sort of movie, less is more – but for a very low budget Brit movie it’s surprisingly well-made. I know some of this review sounds like I’m being down on the movie, which I don’t really want to be. The film should be applauded for its ambition, it certainly manages to hold your attention and there’s plenty about it that people will be able empathise with – particularly a lost teenager needing to find himself. It’s just that sometimes it gets right to the very edge of being a little too soap opera-esque and could have done with pulling back a touch.
Overall Verdict: A sweet, sometimes moving and heartfelt gay-themed Brit flick, which may have a bit of a tendency towards overly high emotions but pulls itself through thanks to decent acting and the fact it believes in what its saying and isn’t trying purely to manipulate.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac