Freak Show (2017) - Freak Show (2017) - User Reviews - IMDb
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(2017)

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2/10
A collection of stereotype characters in a warmed over, seen-that-before storyline
pebsdad15 January 2018
First off, any review that includes the director's name in the first line or paragraph of the review was clearly written by the movie's publicity department (see all previous reviews before this one).

The movie is about a flamboyantly-dressed high school teen, the bullying he attracts (big surprise there), the kids who befriend him and the witless father figure and absent mother. ...and this movie is dreadful. I was looking forward to a "be your own self" coming of age movie and the trailer looked interesting but this one makes no sense and is as unrealistic as any story could be. None of the relationships are believable, you can't figure out why the school jock would befriend this over-the-top rich kid, and everyone else is a stock stereotype. Even Bette Midler's performance, whose casting also brought me to the movie, is ridiculously over acted. I'm not sure what they intended the film's title to refer to because to call the main character a Freak Show would be bullying in itself and to call the whole thing would be, well...more accurate.
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10/10
Noice.
alvina-deliradeva29 May 2020
This is as good as a teenager movie can get. Realising who you are and who your parents and friends are in the most realistic way ever showed. I love that movie. Period.
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8/10
Alex 'the amazing' Lawter
yusufpiskin3 September 2020
This film main character is my favourite actor: ALEX LAWTHER ,This story is about a boy how to survive in their highschool. He love to dress up himself like a pretty girl.So have many people feel weird of his action and bully him with violence.But he is still considence and insist on being himself.In this story I learned that :Everyone chooses the way they lived ,we can't criticize and judge the other person life. We must give the respect for them.
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8/10
Let your freak flag fly
Suradit23 January 2018
At the start of the movie Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) does come across as being a little too fabulous in his behavior and appearance. I can see why that would be off-putting to many people. And possibly that was the point. We judge others based on first impressions which are almost always superficial because we don't have anything more to consider.

Billy's parents are separated and each show only a shallow, mostly hands-off interest in their son. Florence, the housekeeper, is passively sympathetic and protective, but unable to be meaningfully supportive. Billy is essentially alone and coping with his confused sense of self by being as provocatively freakish as he can be.

When Billy starts at a new school, he deliberately alienates himself from the other students by letting his "freak flag fly" in the most flamboyant way imaginable. He is understandably the target of bullying both trivial and physical.

Then, for reasons not easily understood, he attracts the friendship of one of the school's most popular, decidedly straight, male students, Flip Kelly ( Ian Nelson). Flip becomes the catalyst that helps Billy tone down his provocative, defiant and flamboyant behavior because he is possibly the first person in Billy's life who appears to care for the person beneath all the make-up and glitter.

Yes, the movie is filled with a supporting cast of stereotypical characters, but stereotypes exist for a reason and the exceptional characters are significant because they stand apart. While Billy is purportedly the stellar example of an exceptional person, the most meaningful, influential and exceptional character was Flip Kelly.

Great performance by Alex Lather, but Ian Nelson's acting was "exceptionally" good. Bette Midler lent her name to the cast listing but her appearance in the movie was largely insignificant.
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6/10
Bullying
diand_22 February 2017
Trudie Styler's first feature film is about staying loyal to yourself and what you stand for despite being bullied and physically assaulted. That this theme touched a nerve during the Berlinale, where it was shown in the Generation14+ youth section, was clear with a raving audience afterwards and long lines waiting before the cinema.

Bullying is still not taken serious enough in our society: nearly all people have experienced it at some time in their lives, either at work, school, leisure, at home or in the public space. Leading often to violence by the bullied person, or depression and in the worst cases suicide, the latter being the leading cause of death among the age group of 15-25. So this movie will be a good education tool for schools to discuss the theme.

The movie is fluently directed, well edited by Sophia Copolla's frequent editor Sarah Flack, has wonderful costumes and the soundtrack plus score is fitting. Although mostly aimed at a youth audience, Bette Midler and John McEnroe have small roles so the parents aren't left out. The young British actor Alex Lawther (the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game) played the lead character Billy Bloom and has some future ahead I guess.

There is an interesting parallel with Mean Girls, as the part where Billy analyses his voters and classmates has the same kind of sociological and psychological analysis that made that movie so interesting.

During the Q&A afterwards Trudie talked about how certain bullies receive great power, sometimes even leading to the White House. And bullying is indeed often associated with the so-called dark triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy).
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9/10
"The nail that sticks out gets hammered down"
Red-12523 October 2017
Freak Show (2017) was directed by Trudie Styler. It stars Alex Lawther as Billy Bloom, who arrives on his first day at a new high school dressed as Boy George. (We are to understand that this conservative school is in the South. Why would it be called Ulysses S. Grant High School?)

In any case, what happens to Billy in fiction is all too similar to what really happens to students who are different from the norm-- they get bullied, they get hurt, and they become isolated.

However, Billy won't give in. The plot really starts when Billy decides to run for Homecoming Queen.

This is an interesting movie with solid acting, including that by superstar Bette Midler as Billy's mother.

However, you need to be aware that the movie has Young Adult Novel written all over it. And, indeed, it's based on a YA novel by James St. James.

Just because a movie is based on a YA novel doesn't mean that it doesn't have interest or value. I enjoyed the film, which had great costumes and some clever plot twists. It isn't the most subtle film in the series, but it's worth seeing. (It will work almost as well on the small screen.)

We saw this movie in the excellent Dryden Theatre at Rochester's George Eastman Museum. It was shown as the Closing Night Feature of ImageOut, the great LGBT Film Festival. (This was the NYS Premiere screening. How does ImageOut carry that off?)
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10/10
Amazing plot, cast, and message
isabellagwalters11 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
While the entire film was captivating and brilliantly executed, the ending is the part I want to focus on. Just about every teen movie I've seen ends with a boy and a girl declaring their love for each other and living happily every after. Or in some rare cases, a group of friends fight off adversity and come together as one. Whatever the situation is, movies almost never end with an individual soaking in their own glory. That's what sets this movie apart from almost every other movie I've seen. We're taught to expect the kind of happy ending where two people come together and fill in each other's missing half. We've been told that is the ideal happy ending. But Billy Bloom knows that isn't always the case. He stays true to himself, and that is more than enough to check off the happy ending box.
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7/10
Genuine and heartfelt
rivertam2629 July 2020
I stumbled upon this little gem for Pride month. Alex Lawther of the end of the world stars as Billy Bloom a creative and talented young man who finds himself living with his father in a middle American town filled with homophobia. Regardless of what anyone thinks he stays true to himself. After a vicious attack he is saved by the school quarterback and a friendship begins. The boy, Flip is played by the adorable Ian Nelson of the boy next door, tries to help him fit in better but he's commited to being his genuine self. Diva Bette Midler (Beaches) stars as his mother and Abigail Breslin (Zombieland), Anna Sophia Robb (Bridge to Terebithia), Celia Watson (Invasion) and Willa Fitzgerald (MTV's Scream) also star. It's a fun, emotional coming of age flick that's not perfect but is definitely worth a watch.

7.25/10
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9/10
Freak show review
maddiebuggie27 April 2020
I wasnt sure what the plot was gonna be or ten story line when I first started to watch it. I thought the plot would go places that it didn't go. But I was fine with that. I liked how the plot turned out overall. It was about a dude who was differnce then everyone else and was bullied. But by the end of the story he was like I don't care what you think. He was fine will being weird I like that. I also liked at the end the dude that was his friend for most of the story until he was his friend come back to be his friend. I liked that they were friends. They had get chemistry together. The dude family live wasn't the best. There was enough drama keep the story entertaining. I recommend this movie to everyone no matter the age.
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7/10
Freak Show Review
felipepm1712 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It was fun, but the movie spends a lot of time showing the transformations of the protagonist and not building more real characters. It was nice to see that there is only a friendship between Mark and Billy in the end.
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8/10
This is the 3rd movie/series i review in the last month where Alex Lawther is a lead .. such a talent !!
Aktham_Tashtush21 January 2018
So this is the 3rd time this month i write a review where the lead is Alex Lawther ,, i mean before even start talking about the plot and all ,, i'm going to head into the cast , The casting was just amazing , Alex Lawther is a huge star in the making ,, i said it before he reminds me of James Mcavoy , his facial expressions !!! his sense of engagement with the scene .. Of course the other members of the cast were really good,, but man this guy just popped like the freak he wanted us to see.

Back to the plot ,, it is partially original ,, southern high school drama dealing with the new coming glamours/fabulous student who wants to challenge everybody by nominating himself for homecoming queen and in the background dealing with his family issues and conflicts,, although the story is not 100% genuine it has an original execution.. even the comedy was stable quick and original which i think made the whole movie look fresh.

Final thought, Hugely recommended.
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8/10
Will Someone Please give Celia Weston her own movie!!!
cruises-3022624 August 2018
I really enjoyed this movie, it keeps moving so it does not become "I knew that was going to happen" moments during the film. Bette Midler is wonderful as always (she could read me the dictionary and I would be happy), The characters really grow on you and make you remember these "types" (football star, princess, outcast, etc) during your high school years, perfectly played by this cast. Someone of the best and moving scenes include Celia Weston, who is so amazing in everything she appears in. She is so under utilized in cinema, she is the main course and she is always being displayed as the appetizer of the meal. Someone please give her a role that is the center of the story, her acting talent is magical.
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10/10
Great Film!
randyleedunbar17 July 2017
Outfest closed out this summers festival with a lovely movie called Freak Show, marking the directorial debut of Trudie Styler. Based on the 2007 novel by James St. James, the story follows the teenage years of Billy Bloom, a funny, good-hearted, cross-dressing teen who becomes the new student at an ultra-conservative high school. Although accosted with Bible believing cheerleaders, the jocks, the bullies, Billy takes a stand. Determined to be who he is and not bow to peer pressure, he refuses to change his outlandish outfits or behavior. Instead, he decides to run for Homecoming Queen for outcasts and underdogs everywhere. Within this framework Billys life revolves around these relationships: his mother, father, Flip Kelly, Blah, Blah. Blah (she talks so fast he never quite gets her name) and Florence. But let's talk about Billy. As played by Alex Lawther (last seen in the Imitation Game) this is performance nothing less than Oscar worthy. He is in every scene and he plays Billy with such conviction (starting with the fact he British) that it is often painful to watch. His face is nothing less than a canvas on which to draw whatever emotion is required; in some scenes, he almost seems to become a mime channeling Guiletta Masina (look her up!). It is powerful performance and even as it is about being fabulous ("I normally take being-over dramatic as a compliment") he always has something behind the look that feels real and vulnerable. There is no shortage of teenage films about high school (from Rebel Without a Cause to Twilight) and the cruelty encountered in those years. It is legendary and in Freak Show, there is ample violence, bullying and harassment to make one feel very uncomfortable—and that may be its point. As diercted by Trudie Styler it never crosses that line of being didactic or message-driven, it simply tells the story with grace. With appearances by Bette Midler, Abigail Breslin, Laverne Cox, John McEnroe, Larry Pine and most notably Celia Weston as Florence, Freak Show seems perfect for the moment. A film about standing ground in the face of adversity, being true to one's self at all costs, Freak Show was the perfect way to end a film festival about the diverse and the changing landscape of the LGBT community.
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6/10
Did what it needed to do...but needed to do so much more! The subject matter deserves it.
chrisandmark-4483825 January 2018
Freak Show has easily been my most eagerly awaited movie of the past year and when it was finally released I waisted no time in seeing it however I was left deflated and in need of something more, ultimately the story being told is important and deserved a better script, with more fleshed out characters, potrayls, more feeling, emotion, warmth and it was good for what it was but it could have really been special if they had of tried more.

I'm new to the boundfully talented Alex Lawther and I have quickly signed myself up as a fan of his so when I realised that he was the lead in this movie I was thrilled and when you throw in Bette Midler who has been attached to this project since they beginning then I settled myself in for what I expected to be quite the treat of a movie.

Early on in the movie I found myself mesmerized by Lawther, he captivates you with his genuine, awkward, honest and charming potrayal of Billy Bloom. His refreshing and quiet brilliant style of acting with his subtle yet on the money mannerisms, movements and playfulness with the dialogue is wonderful however it's just a shame that all this talent was for the most part waisted on what could have been something really special.

Going in to this movie I wasn't sure what message I was going to get at the end but expected for the movie to be more multi layered than what was offered. I was expecting a world wind of emotion, anger and frustration due to story being told at the heart of the movie being unfairly and frustratingly as real in today's society as it has for generations, they issue and story deserves better and more than a one-dimentional, phone it in movie that overall for me felt like an educational movie that would be played in schools. Were was the backstory and multi-layered characters...why should I believe in and releate to Billy Bloom or get angry or a better understanding of the beliefs of Abigail Breslins character? The characters were flat and stereotypical with no depth. I wanted warmth and emotion from Billy Bloom as he fought to be who he wanted to be...i wanted anger and frustration...tears and fight when he was told he couldn't be who he wanted to be and I have no doubt that given the right material Alex Lawther could have truly shined in this role.

Bette Midler as Muv was really Bette Midler being the usual Bette Midler, her character was a mess and not fully explained and appeared to be a after thought when it came to meaning and point but the same can be said for the rest of the supporting cast who looked to be phoning it in and bored throughout.

Lawther is fabulous but at times can overly theatrical in a way that distracted me from what was happening in a scene, i wanted less costume changes and more storytelling...ok he is flamboyant gay but we didn't need 8-9 costume changes to make that point...less is more and I think the movie relied to much on the visual than the dialogue and meaning of why this story and issue needed to be told.

In the end I wanted less FREAK SHOW and more just good old storytelling...the subject matter deserved a lot more.
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9/10
Beautiful lesson !
mariananeagu7 June 2020
Just a beautiful lesson ! Loved it ! We should never judge, we should be what we feel even if we're diffrent than majority. It doesn't mean we're weird, just special, out of the crowd. Great lesson ! Great young actor !
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8/10
A Must For A Theatrical Musical Adaptation
marc8830 April 2020
This must be adapted into a stage musical. The characters and the situations cry out for musical numbers. And the young demographics are perfect for this material. We have "Mean Girls" and "Kinky Boots" why not this one...It's just so obvious!!!
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4/10
Disappointing
jordanaaron-5188125 October 2020
I did not enjoy this film at all. What were we meant to learn from it? If people inflict massive amounts of pain on you, you should just turn the other cheek no matter what? Maybe I was expecting too much, but I definitely expected a better film with a cast that included Bette Midler, Laverne Cox, and Alex Lawther.
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7/10
A hopeful story about acceptance and being true to yourself
kayking-804936 September 2020
I really enjoyed this. I thought it was adapted very well but there were some moments from the book that were excluded from the film which was disappointing. I also thought the casting choice for Lynette wasn't very good but Alex Lawther did an excellent job as Billy.
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6/10
It's too bad that . . .
shaunaruss6 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
It's really too bad that they were unable to pull off a movie that celebrates so much realism - the confusion of teen years, the unique personalities our world is populated with, the importance of friendship, inclusion and tolerance - without falling back to old, worn out, mostly incorrect, stereotypes of Christians. For a group who preaches tolerance, acceptance and understanding I have yet to see Hollyweird pull off even a close representation of Christianity.

The music was good, the humor was fun and it was a sensitive show EXCEPT when it comes to Christianity. The lines the so-called Christian homecoming queen blurted out, "all gays are going to hell!" is not an accurate teaching of the Bible nor Bible based Christianity, but Hollyweird never tires of attacking Christianity & pretending to know what Christians believe.
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10/10
At last! The Bullied Strikes Back!
imdb-21-5111630 March 2018
Alex Lawther gives to the bullies as good as he gets.

It's 2018, but bullying is still alive and well. People still can't stand anyone who is different. Can a film help change that?

There have certainly been other films on the topic, such as the recent "Love, Simon." But this time, the bullied bullies back. Bullies don't scare him. Love? Well that's another question.

Alex Lawther is fierce as Billy, and Bette Midler is fabulous (as always) as his mother. Together, they make the film as funny as it is fun. Don't regret your inner "freak": celebrate it!

Hopefully, Billy -- and Alex -- are getting ready for Return of the Bullies. :)
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7/10
Freak Show breaks the rules of conformity
francescabra5 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The gender-queer teenager Billy has absolutely no desire to be like the others. When called "theatrical," Billy takes it as a compliment; when his classmates feel provoked by his determination to be different, he feels even more motivated to push his limits further. Neither his father nor friends succeed when they suggest him to keep a low profile. Going to school is hard enough for a new-comer, but going dressed up as a mix between David Bowie, Lady Gaga and Freddy Mercury is even harder. Billy in his transgressing pop culture and dressed as the protagonist of Brodway Show, faces fearlessly the corridors and humiliations of classmates. I loved this movie, Freak Show does not just talk about homophobia, but celebrate the violation of conformity, praising the power of self- determination and tolerance. In aid of Billy's struggle to run for Home Coming Queen, an army of "shadow students" comes forward. Billy carries the flag of those students (and adults) who do not recognize in the mainstream and do not fit in. Let's embrace diversity then, and celebrate it! also in Italian: http://www.intrattenimento.eu/news/freak-show-impressioni-commenti/
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3/10
Let Your Freak Flag Fly High!
kz917-126 November 2018
What an odd little, yet enjoyable movie!

Why fit in - when you were born to stand out?

Weird but entertaining.
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7/10
Good acting - average teen movie
Jack_Brock17 June 2018
Alex Lawther's acting is the best thing about this movie. He breathed life into this movie that easily might have been worse.

Kudos to the writers for trying, but this movie suffers from what most teen movies do: one dimensional characters and weak scripts. Almost all of the characters are cardboard cut outs whose actions are predictable - The jock who hates being a jock, the bitchy cheerleader, clueless parents (including Bette Midler's overacted alcoholic mother), the secretly gay bully in love with the protagonist, etc...

There were some genuinely funny moments though.
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10/10
Must watch
elenaprusova30 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This movie, even being shot quite brightly, in a classic teenage style and without dark sulky mood, makes people think about serious things. Unlike Un Bacio of Ivan Cotroneo, the end is happy, but unfortunately the real end of real gay people can be quite sad. I hope the world goes towards tolerance, and thanks to such movies as well.
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10/10
Amazing just espectacular
barbarampagan5 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The preformance of "billy" wow how talented . Amazing production . My respects to the director and writers . The only thing is i press play on this movie cause i saw BETT MIDLERs name on it and im so glad i did . Im in love with the freak show great movie . It so much like days are in realyty . Recspect please no bulling at schools.
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