During the ’90s, Belgian filmmaker Bavo Defurne made nine shorts – including ‘Particularly Now, in Spring’, ‘Sailor’ and ‘Campfire’ – in which he demonstrated a potently dreamlike queer sensibility. Teenagers in love lounge by the water, spy on each other at night, fetishise chocolate and motorbikes and suffer gorgeous pangs in timeless vignettes refracting the influences of Genet, Almodóvar and Pierre et Gilles. A decade on, he returns to the screen with his first feature.
Adapted from André Sollie’s novel, ‘North Sea Texas’ is on familiar ground: 14-year-old Pim (Jelle Florizoone) lives by the sea with his mother (Eva van der Gucht), a boozy accordion player with lame taste in men. Fantasies of beauty-queen Americana aside, his heart is set on Gino (Mathias Vergels), the older boy next door. ‘North Sea Texas’ inevitably lacks the intoxicatingly hermetic feel of Defurne’s shorts; unlike in those, family life and adult power are central here, allowing for bittersweet engagement with emotions over time and the compromises of living in reality.