Review: North Sea Texas (2011)

Pim (Jelle Florizoone), a courteous dreamer, lives in a quaint Belgian town with his sexually promiscuous mother, Yvette (Eva Van Der Gucht), and her foolish boyfriend, Etienne (Luk Wyns). Feeling contained by his surroundings, Pim starts to fantasise about what life must be like outside his towns limited offerings and about a possible relationship with handsome boy-next-door Gino (Mathias Vergels).

Crafted out of a delicacy and honesty towards emphasising the fragility of an adolescent’s existence and their wide-eyed imagination, North Sea Texas bears with it a hefty ambition – one that, more often than not, is attained with proficiency. The script, co-written by director Bavo Defurne and screenwriter Yves Verbraeken, never aims too high, always staying true to Pim’s personality and the limits he faces due to his instability and Gino’s continued impassivity towards him.

It’s not as hopeless as it sounds, though, as the narrative ticks ahead at a measured pace (shaky conclusion aside) and the tone is kept light, with the writers ensuring Pim’s experiences and emotions stay true to his tenderfoot age. While the film may present Pim’s life in an overly delicate air that, on occasion, restricts the emotional resonance it bears and mostly sidesteps the obvious cynicism Yvette has towards her sons closeted sexuality, it is respectful towards the hardships that come hand in hand with maturing.

That difficult transference to adulthood is captured with superb skill and sincerity by Florizoone’s stand-out central performance. While the other cast members do their utmost with their respective personas (Vergels, in particular), this is Pim’s film, and Florizoone proves to be an actor capable of displaying a wide range of emotions through brief introspection and a demeanour that beautifully showcases Pim’s precariousness.

North Sea Texas, while often too ambiguous and fanciful for its own good, is an inviting and amiable tale of young love, specifically the love shared between a homosexual adolescent who, unlike the object of his affection, finds it hard to accept his first love may not be his last. With a little more focus, Defurne’s follow-up could be something really special.

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