A gay coming-of-age tale is told with economy and good taste in this French import. The plot of “You’ll Get Over It” is simple enough: a high-school swimming champ named Vincent (Julien Baumgartner) is a popular fellow on the verge of going all the way with his sweet girlfriend Noemie (Julia Maraval), but he’s deeply uncertain about his sexuality, occasionally enjoying assignations with an older gay man (Nils Ohlund). A chance encounter with a surly but attractive transfer student named Benjamin (Jeremie Elkaim) who follows him about leads to the revelation of his preference–which, of course, causes him all sorts of difficulty with his classmates, even though Noemie and his sturdy best buddy Stephane (Francois Comar) show him enlightened support. Things are no easier at home, where his parents (Patrick Bonnel and Christiane Millet) are largely clueless about how to react and his pugilist older brother (Antoine Michel) positively hostile.
What follows is fairly predictable. Can Vincent continue training for a big competition that might win him a university scholarship when almost all his teammates harass him? Can his mother and father come to terms with his sexual identity? And will the young protagonist ever be able to forgive Benjamin, whose careless words outed him? The questions are all familiar, and the answers equally so; typically, the outcome is hopeful, but here it seems more authentic and less manipulative than usual–the generally light and affectionate treatment makes the material fresher than one might expect. Nicely realistic touches abound, like Vincent’s nervous effort to keep his problem a secret from his parents, and the halting efforts of his teachers and coaches to address the difficulties his revelation has caused on campus–the combination of good intentions and ineptitude seems exactly right. The performances are natural and unaffected. Baumgartner is the glue that holds everything together; he brings a solemnity to Vincent that makes the boy a genuinely poignant figure. Maraval and Comar provide solid support, and though Elkaim plays Benjamin’s rebelliousness a trifle broadly and Michel overdoes the harshness, the remainder of the cast is expertly low-key.
Even if “You’ll Get Over It” has a slightly musty, afterschool special message to impart about being true to oneself and the importance of tolerance, the picture delivers it with sufficient charm and complexity to escape TV-movie mediocrity (even though it originated, in fact, as a French telefilm). It might not, in the final analysis, tell us anything we haven’t heard before, but these filmmakers make it worth listening to again.