Saturday, October 20, 2018

Another Non-After School Special: Hidden Kisses

In an earlier post, I comment on fiction that comes across as an "After School Special."

There's nothing particularly wrong with After School Specials; I simply prefer my literature to be less Important Topic Under Discussion and more story for the sake of story.

Hidden Kisses greatly surprised me for being very much not an after school special.

The blurb on the DVD back cover rather implied that it would be--two boys kiss at a party; someone takes a picture; the one boy is recognized; bullying ensues.

And yes, that is (more or less) the plot that runs the movie.

But that's not what the movie is about.  

*Minor Spoilers*

The movie is about the families, specifically the fathers of the two boys. The one father is rather wonderful. Stunned, at first he distances himself from his son, only to come around and rebuild their positive relationship. The other father--who nearly invites us to hate him--reacts with a passionate determination to "fix" his son.

And yet--

The movie is not a LECTURE on HOW PARENTS SHOULD BEHAVE. Rather, the movie illuminates how two fathers see themselves reflected in their sons (an only son and an eldest son), not only in terms of their sexuality but in terms of their interests and behavior. It isn't so much about good v. bad but about how a parent reacts when his or her belief about the future (my child will be . . .) is shattered.

The first father is able to more easily move on because that future always held a bit of mystery to him. The second father, whose images of his well-functioning family were more assured and definite, needs more time.

We don't get the Hollywood ending. We do get hope.

What makes the film so extraordinary is that without abandoning the boys--the movie always takes their side--it allows for the heartache and uncertainty of others. At the end of the movie, the two boys are reunited when Louis returns from his grandparents. The boys greet each other with a relieved embrace while the mother looks on.

Is she sad? Thoughtful? Resigned? Accepting? Did she think the time away would "cure" Louis like his father hoped? She decided to take her son away before her husband did him irreparable harm. Does she feel guilt? Relief? Shame? Exhaustion? Does she bemoan her marriage? Does she have hope for it? Is she confident in her decisions?

We aren't told.

This is story, not a lesson.