BFI Flare 2023 Quick Picks

BFI Flare Quick Picks – Horseplay, The Dream Songs, Golden Delicious, Maybe Someday and How to Tell a Secret

BFI Flare 2023 Quick Picks features short festival reviews of Horseplay, The Dream Songs, Golden Delicious, Maybe Someday and How to tell a Secret.

HORSEPLAY (2022) ★★★

Themes of masculinity, toxicity and bromance are placed under the microscope in Marco Berger’s often uneasy, playfully erotic and volatile drama Horseplay. Building on his previous work, Taekwondo, Berger puts us in a friendship group where homosexuality and male love are dismissed, and homoerotic play is embraced. Think fly on the wall on an all-male 18-30’s holiday, and you roughly get the idea. Berger aims to explore the formation and boundaries of male sexuality and the contradictions that exist in heterosexual male behaviour. Here masculinity is thin, fragile and prone to flaws despite an outer box that insists it’s tough and unbreakable. Many will struggle with the loose narrative and the open, unstructured performances. But for those willing to see Berger’s film through to the inevitable horror of the final act, Horseplay offers something truly unique, unsettling and authentic in its dissection of heterosexual male behaviour.

THE DREAM SONGS (2022) ★★★

On the morning of the 16th of April 2014, the MV Sewol ferry carrying 476 passengers and 33 crew members sank off the coast of South Korea, her weight massively above safe limits. Among the passengers were 250 students on a field trip from Danwon High School. This disaster sits at the heart of CHO Hyun -Chul’s feature debut, The Dream Songs. Set during the twenty-four hours preceding the disaster, this is the fictional story of teenage Sam (Park Hye-su) and her best friend Ha-eun (Kim Si-eun) as they finally face the true nature of their relationship and unspoken love. Soft lighting, ethereal beauty and engaging performances are the hallmarks of this impressive feature debut as raw emotion ripples through each scene. However, The Dream Songs frequently gets lost in its beauty and narrative complexity and overruns; as a result, the film loses audience interest midway through before pulling it back for the final act.


Jason Karman’s debut feature film takes us to Vancouver, where we meet the Wong family. Seventeen-year-old Jake feigns interest in High School basketball just to impress his dad George who runs a local Chinese Restaurant left to him by his parents. However, in many ways, it’s his disgruntled mum who really keeps the restaurant doors open. Meanwhile, his older sister Janet aspires to a career in cooking, much to his parent’s disdain. But as Jake navigates the final year of high school, a girlfriend who wants to go all the way, and a dad who is piling on the pressure, everything is about to change when Aleks moves in next door. Golden Delicious often feels like a homage to Love, Simon and Love, Victor in its style and dramatic themes. But while it may not tread new ground in the coming out, coming-of-age genre, this accomplished & polished feature debut beautifully celebrates diversity, friendship, family and first love through its talented young cast and engaging screenplay.

MAYBE SOMEDAY (2022) ★★★

Life is full of beginnings and endings; some are full of excitement, hope and expectation. But others are challenging, painful and deeply uncomfortable. Maybe Someday could well find itself categorised as a love story, but it’s so much more. Jay is a non-binary photographer who has just separated from their wife and is unsure which direction to take next as they unpick their life. Seeking escape, Jay ends up at the house of their high school best friend, where they attempt to replace their pain with hope for a better future. There, Jay meets the charismatic but complicated Tommy, a dreadful gay stand-up comedian. Tommy makes Jay laugh and accepts them for who they are, but can Jay move forward and let go of the past? Director Michelle Ehlen’s quiet and considered film is about the journeys we take in finding healing and new connections. It is a subtle but moving take on the road trip genre grounded in intimacy and honesty.

HOW TO TELL A SECRET (2022) ★★★★

It often feels like HIV has been relegated to history in our modern society. Great dramas such as It’s a Sin and deeply emotional documentaries like AIDS The Unheard Tapes have reflected upon the 80s and 90s experience of HIV and AIDS and the devastating effects the pandemic had on individuals, partners, families and communities. But do we talk enough about the continued stigma of the virus and the fear those words “you are HIV positive” instil in new generations? How to Tell a Secret places millennials centre stage as directors Anna Rodgers and Shaun Dunne combine documentary filmmaking with performance art and classic storytelling to explore what it means to live with HIV in modern-day Ireland. The result is a beautiful, powerful, urgent mosaic of experiences and stories brought to life through a genre-defying slice of experimental and creative filmmaking.



error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!