the fruit machine

“The Fruit Machine” (“Wonderland”)

Gay in Liverpool

Amos Lassen

Eddie (Emile Charles) and Michael (Tony Forsyth) are gay teens in Liverpool. The only thing that they seem to have in common is their sexuality but strangely enough a romance between them develops. However, before it gets serious, they witness an execution by a gang and are forced to defend themselves against the thugs.

 Sixteen-year-old gay Eddie runs away from home, where his father constantly harassed him. While with his friend Michael at a gay disco, “Fruit Machine” he watched the owner being killed by a guy name Echo. Together he and Eddie ran away and the killer is in pursuit. This is a British thriller by director Philip Saville but some reason it has yet to be available in this country .

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The film is part love story, part thriller, part animal rights sermon and has dream sequences that are a bit surreal. In fact there are times that the film seems to be two movies rolled into one. The best parts of the film are when the young lovers are the focus. There is a moment when Charles as Eddie delivers a wonderfully camp scene as a boy who loves dolphins and is in sharp contrast to the character of Forsyth’s Michael who comes across as something of a street hustler which is actually what he is.

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The soundtrack is also amazing but the conclusion of the film was less than satisfying for me. We really do not see affection between the two boys and that is somewhat disappointing. Eddie spends his time watching old movies and reminiscing with his mother about days long ago, before she became fat and lost her knockout looks. We see that he has inherited her trend toward being a bit “zaftig”. Michael is a punk, with very few illusions about sex in particular and life in general. Their relationship is both idealized and amorphous as is the film.  There are all kinds of incidents and adventures that seem to be there for no reason.

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