North Sea Texas (2 stars)

North Sea Texas

Sensitive performances fail to make this predictable coming of age story engaging

(15) 98 mins

Given how difficult we’re lead to believe it is to get an independent film distributed in cinemas in the UK, you’d be forgiven for wondering why some of those that do reach our screens seem so familiar. North Sea Texas, the story of 15-year-old Pim (Jelle Florizoone) living in a small town on the Belgian coast who falls for floppy haired Gino (Mathias Vergels) displays the same steady pace and gentle tone of many other recent European coming of age stories - Corpo Celeste, Love like Poison, She Monkeys (due out in May), to name a few.

This isn’t bad filmmaking; the retro interiors and windswept beaches are certainly easy on the eye and several of the performances are sensitively delivered (most notably the young Florizoone in the restrained central lead and his voluptuous mother played by Eva van der Gucht). However, any sympathy for these characters and their lives dissipates quickly on reaching scenes filled with cliched symbolism, like the burning of treasured possessions on a beach and running into the sea in an emotional outburst. The opening scene too, where the young Pim tries on his mother’s lipstick and clothes, also appears a tired way of presenting a character exploring his sexuality.

Strangely one scene that you imagine had the potential for real emotional impact - when Pim discovers that Gino has a girlfriend - is rather bafflingly devoid of any reaction from Pim at all. Perhaps the shock leaves our protagonist momentarily paralysed, yet you can’t help but feel that like our main character, the audience are left feeling unaffected too.

Selected release from Fri 6 April.

North Sea, Texas official trailer with ENGLISH SUBTITLES

North Sea Texas (Noordzee, Texas)

  • 2 stars
  • 2011
  • Belgium
  • 1h 38min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Bavo Defurne
  • Cast: Eva van der Gucht, Thomas Coumans, Jelle Florizoone
  • UK release: 6 April 2012

In a small town on the Belgian coast, 15-year-old Pim (Florizoone) falls for floppy-haired Gino (Vergels). It's easy on the eye and features sensitive performances, especially from Florizoone and van der Gucht as his voluptuous mother, but clichéd symbolism and a predictable story rob it of emotional impact.

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