Sensual and effervescent, Were The World Mine (2008) puts a gay twist on a play that is already plenty gay, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Timothy, a teenager at an all-boy’s school, is harassed by fellow students and even some of his teachers because he is gay. Frustrated by his town’s small-mindedness, and with a crush one of the school jocks, the strikingly handsome Jonathan, is intrigued by the announcement that all of the boys will be required to participate in the school play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by an eccentric, sage drama teacher.
Timothy ends up being cast as the faerie Puck. While doing research for the role, he discovers a recipe for a love potion hidden within Shakespeare’s script. Concealed in an alluring purple flower, Timothy accidentally applies the potion to his straight, funny sidekick Max. Suddenly, Max is afflicted with a love sickness for Timothy, who can’t shake it out of him. Then, Timothy uses the potion to force the town to, for once, see things through his eyes. Homophobic jocks pant over each other and dance and sing during rugby practice. The worst of the rugby players are the hardest hit by the gay love bug. They can’t keep their hands off each other and they tumble effortlessly into each other’s beds. The brutish coach clamors for the school principal, and almost all the townsfolk begin chasing each other pursuing same-sex romances.
Through all the chaos and crisscross arrows that Cupid shoots, Timothy finally gets his man… but is their love true or just the product of the potion? When the very production that started it all comes under fire and might not have an opening night, the drama teacher (the ethereal, wicked, cool Wendy Robie from Twin Peaks) convinces Timothy that he must get everyone back to the way they were and hope that maybe they will have learned lessons about accepting each other and all the varieties of love. The ending, which is both crowd-pleasing and a big dose of reality… well, I won’t give it away, but you’d have to be a very hard hearted not to be moved by it.
Were The World Mine somehow manages to be a small independent film, and edgy mainstream film, a high school musical, an anti-high school musical musical, a teen film, and grown up film, a gay fantasia, and a gay-themed serious film. It is funny, fanciful, sweet, sexy, romantic, thought-provoking and a little naughty. It is a fun, tantalizing film to watch, with strong messages about prejudice and the dangerous powers of love.
Tanner Cohen plays Timothy and Nathaniel David Becker is Jonathan. They both give fantastic performances, especially in musical numbers. Cohen gives an angsty, edgy performance that is nuanced and full of detail. Director / writer Tom Gustafson, puts the whole thing together with heart and soul and considerable skill.
The musical numbers are magical, with very little in the way of special effects and hardly any cut-away shots. The highly theatrical, gorgeous title song starts in Timothy’s bedroom, moves to the gym of the school and on to the play’s stage set. Timothy’s bedroom literally breaks as the wall opens, revealing, in pools of light, the gym floor where Jonathan is in midsummer slumber; the rugby team, sweaty and shirtless in silver metallic hot-pants as the faeries; and finally, the stage where Timothy, as Puck, weaves his magic. You cannot see the underpinnings of its shoestring budget. The whole enterprise looks luxe.
I recommend this movie to anyone who loves Shakespeare, the theatre, musicals and hot boys.
Were the world mine, I would have a magic purple flower filled with a potion that would spray all over the current White House, with Sean Spicer and Jared Kusher making out as Kellyanne Conway chases Sarah Huckabee Sanders across the Rose Garden. Wait! What is going on with POTUS and Vladimir Putin on the West Portico?