And then immediately got so delighted by the prospect of a Melissa Benoist + Blake Jenner feature -- my guilty pleasure dream, the AU where I can enjoy their faces again and pretend the latter is not a pillar of garbage! -- that I plunged heedlessly into "Billy Boy" with barely a glance at its summary, and certainly no thought to content warnings.
Sure, I could tell immediately from all the violence and swearing and his horrific peroxide blond hair that this was not going to be an outstanding film. But because Melissa Benoist is this generation's Jennifer Aniston, a beautiful woman from a good TV show with a penchant for picking terrible films where she is the only good thing about them, I waited patiently to see how she would come in, and I was not disappointed. Look at her, being a darling ray of innocent Pollyanna sunshine and OH MY GOODNESS THEY'RE DATING, THEIR CHARACTERS ARE REALLY DATING OR AT LEAST HE HAS A CRUSH ON HER, THIS IS MY FAVORITE DAY.
And that's how I got lulled into sitting through the bad parts, skipping forward a bit when it got dull here and there, until suddenly I was plunged eyes first into HELL. (TM dollsome, from Sleepover, a fic so good I honestly thought I was referencing Michael Scott on the show)
Specifically, the most horrifying sex scene I have ever borne witness to, though it seems disingenuous to call it a sex scene when I feel like it was just culled straight from porn. The action, the words, the part where I tried to skip ahead and instead landed on full frontal male nudity in a way that seemed Worse than the 1 or 2 other times I have been assaulted by male nudity on film...utterly horrifying.
At least it didn't feature the characters I cared about. (though I just tried to see if there were content warnings I could have looked up ahead of time, and it appears there was some frontal nudity from Blake Jenner as well, that I mercifully must have missed while I was skipping past boring things.)
Anyway, I just wanted to share my trauma on that because the thing is, when investigating it further today because I thought it was interesting that Blake wrote the screenplay, that this project was made possible by a Kickstarter he and Melissa launched way back in 2013. Which made me realize I DO remember that, and being really excited and hopeful that they would succeed, because what could be better than their pretty faces together in a movie that they put together themselves from the ground up? (So many things, it turns out.)
The Good Part a.k.a. Surprise! This Film Has A Redeeming Factor
But honestly, even if I could go back in time and warn myself, i wouldn't. I'm still glad this nightmare horrorfest got made, because the scenes the two of them in are glorious. I should probably switch to character names here, so: Billy is still in high school (I'm gonna assume 18, to keep my sanity) while Jennifer is in college, still living with her foster mom to help take care of all the younger foster kids there, pursuing a nursing degree and waitressing at a diner. The movie is told in such a weird-ass non-linear way that I can't quite track it, but I think they more or less meet randomly and start out as a one night stand -- "you had fun, I'm half satisfied, it's all good" -- but start to develop into something more.
She's a safe place for him to run when he flips out at his mom/stepdad enough to get thrown out of the house (side note: watching him lose his temper is, uh, kind of stomach-twisting now), and she says lovely nice things about how whatever he did in the past doesn't matter (you know, like carjacking and hanging out with other thieves/attempted murderers), what matters is how he is now and what he does from here. Which means he turns the smitten heart eyes on her like a loyal puppy.
There are so many gratuitous scenes of them just being cuddly and cute, laughing and having fun on dates, while my eyes don't have to deal with anything actively grosser than his bare butt (while getting dressed in the morning). And the most tentative "I love you" ever, featuring a head-on-shoulder moment. Also, do I get my all-time favorite trop of them waking up in a shared bed in the morning, pre-relationship and fully clothed, her cuddled against his shoulder? I THINK YOU KNOW I DO.
There is even a particularly delicious breakup scene, courtesy of the misguided instincts of a baby colt to protect her, if necessary, from his psycho friend by way of having a ready gun on hand. There are tears on both sides and pleading apologies on his end (which...also kind of made my stomach twist, in light of Reality), and all in all it's just really everything I could have wanted from raw footage.
Bottom line: a bad movie is always salvageable with good footage to use in whatever context you want, and despite his awul hair, this is some of the best ever. This is the kind of thing I'd read in a book and wish I was watching on film instead, because the book didn't give me enough details of physical actions and facial expressions to study. I can't even do it justice with my words in this recap, but aren't we all glad I spent a thousand words trying anyway?