It’s impossible to not love Alex Lawther. After his unparalleled performance in Black Mirror, followed by his meteoric rise to fame through The End of the Fucking World, he’s proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with. That said, in his previous performances, Lawther had the backing of the UK’s most talented writers. During Freak Show, I’m not sure this was the case.
Billy Bloom (Lawther) is abandoned by his outrageous mother (Midler) into the care of his estranged father. Left into a small town, gender fluid Billy is taunted for his flamboyant style, before being beaten into a coma. During his recovery, Billy ends up befriending rising football star Flip, whom Billy develops an impossible crush on. That said, Billy has yet to win over his new school and the woefully cast chief antagonist, Lynette (Breslin).
The highlight of this film was without a doubt was the costumes. Lisa Harlow-Powell (costume designer) brought something truly beautiful to this film. Every outfit was lavished with attention and each one was a masterclass in design. Sadly, this is a jarring comparison to the script.
The entire film is built around some complex themes and ideas, the good intentions are certainly there to build a project that is impactful enough to convey the ‘be yourself’ message. However, when it comes to delivery, the film disappoints. The character arc is non-existent, and it’s a struggle to really understand any of their motivations.
For me, Alex Lawther did a great job at pulling every last bit of emotion out of his scenes but let down by tired jokes, a lack of characterisation and very average writing, this film is forgettable. Sadly, so is the message the production team worked so hard to convey.