Gypsy 83 (review)

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There’s a blustery charm to the gothy outcasts of writer/director Todd Stephens’s beautifully realized Gypsy 83, two unlikely best pals who cling to each other in the cultural wasteland of cool-deprived Sandusky, Ohio. Gypsy (Sara Rue: A Slipping-Down Life) is a 25-year-old wannabe singer with some genuine talent, if not quite the drive to pursue it. Eighteen-year-old Clive (Kett Turton: Saved!) is struggling with his sexuality and just killing time till high school is over and he can blow the Midwest. An impromptu road trip to a New York City club for the talent show Night of a 1000 Stevies (Nickses, that is — who knew the Fleetwood Mac diva was a grandmother of goth?) sets off the typical road-movie scenario of finding oneself by running away. But if there’s plenty familiar here, there’s also plenty that’s captivating and pointed and that will hit disquietingly close to home to many who avow to being comfortable in their nonconformity. Rue — a revelation as an actor and a delight as a beautiful girl content not to be beautiful in a Hollywood way — and Turton — Outfest’s best actor for his performance here — delicately explore the unspoken anxiety of soul-mate friends afraid to leave that comfort zone for other, more rewarding horizons: There’s a brand of superior satisfaction that comes from being the only weirdo in town that disappears when you have to measure yourself against other weirdoes. And it’s when they let Gypsy’s and Clive’s dare-to-be-different bravado slip that the film achieves a minor kind of geeky greatness, as if to say: Be weird for your own sanity, not just because you think it’s what the other weirdoes want from you.

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