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film review

Connor Jessup in Closet Monster (2016).

If there is any doubt that this country's young filmmakers need all the institutional support they can get, then Closet Monster offers the definitive answer: God, yes, please! Here, 27-year-old director Stephen Dunn (the inaugural winner of the Len Blum Artist in Residence at TIFF) crafts a thrilling, remarkable debut with star-making turns from Connor Jessup (a member of TIFF's 2012 Rising Star program) and Aliocha Schneider (TIFF's Rising Star class of 2015). Without the industry's support, it's doubtful the assembled arists could have made such a bold and startling work, one that twists the old coming-of-age template with a queer, compelling bent. Jessup stars as Oscar, a gay teen struggling to find his place in a repressed East Coast community. Although that may sound like a thousand other films, Dunn's work is a far more fantastical feat, one that mixes slow-burn drama with a welcome Cronenbergian sensibility. Oh, and Isabella Rossellini plays a talking hamster. Just try to top that.

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