A heartwarming tale of owning who you truly are this week – by way of an Irish boarding school and loads of rugby.
Ned and Conor are forced to share a bedroom at their boarding school. The loner and the star athlete at this rugby-mad school form an unlikely friendship until it’s tested by the authorities.
Ned is something of a loner at school. All but abandoned by his father (O’Hanlon) – who has married a much younger women following the death of Ned’s mother – he’s dumped unceremoniously at boarding school for the new term while they fuck off to Dubai.
Bullied by the rugby team and head wanker Weasel (Ruairi O’Connor), Ned finds comfort in music and staying out of the way. When enigmatic (and quite beautiful) Conor Masters (Nicholas Galitzine) shows up to share Ned’s personal space, things take a turn. A rugby star at his old school, Conor was expelled for excessive fighting but his new team are all over him, eager to start winning their games again. He is heavily persuaded to stay away from Ned though, who is gay. Because gay equals infectious, obvs.
At the same time intriguing new English teacher Mr Sherry (Fleabag 2’s Andrew Scott) shows up to replace the last one, who has just pegged it. Mr Sherry is a tough nut who actually expects authenticity from his students. Ned likes him immediately but is called out in front of everyone when he tries to pass off somebody else’s work as his own. Naughty.
And, despite the initial cool temperatures in Ned and Conor’s dorm room, the pair start to bond. Both share a love of music – and Mr Sherry convinces them to enter a talent contest at the local girl’s school. The pair will perform an acoustic song together.
When Ned secretly witnesses Conor going into a gay bar one evening, he realises they have more in common than he thought. In the same location, Conor learns that he shares something in common with Mr Sherry, who is spotted being affectionate with his ‘friend’. On the way home the pair agree not to talk of this for their own reasons.
Alas, the rugby coach isn’t having Conor’s interest taken away from the main event – so he has one of the boys do a little digging into why their star player was expelled. When Conor is given an ultimatum – ditch the music and Ned for rugby glory – his actions aren’t all that surprising.
Ned is crushed and back to being bullied. When he lashes out at Conor for ‘getting away with being gay’ while he is punished – he instantly regrets it. Can he make it up to his only friend? And as for Conor, can he have rugby and be himself after all?
This is a nice film with nice messaging. The performances are lovely and it’s a good story. There’s not much more to say about it. Despite the rage, the homophobia and the punched noses on the rugby pitch, it’s gentle and heartwarming – and my favourite bit is when Mr Sherry introduces his boyfriend to the school’s headmaster.
This isn’t a love story, it’s a story about friendship and yes, speaking in your own voice, whatever you have to say.