Freak Show — Alex Lawther shines as queer teen in a much-needed comedy ★★★★

Billy Bloom played by Alex Lawther in Freak Show

A film about a flamboyant teenager forced to transfer to an ultra-conservative high school might seem cliche but is a film we sorely need in 2018.

Freak Show follows the life of Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) as he moves to an unidentified traditional ‘red state’.

The queer teen, who dresses like Boy George and regularly quotes Oscar Wilde, isn’t easily accepted into his new ultra-conservative high school.

After a spate of bullying from his peers, Billy decides to challenge the whole system and run for homecoming queen rather than muting his style and quick wit.

Related: BFI Flare: Alaska is a Drag — A bold exploration of masculinity ★★★

Based on the novel by famed club kid James St James, Trudie Styler‘s directorial debut is full of warmth and laughter, while also sending out a clear message to anyone who has ever felt different.


The performances in Freak Show are brilliant across the board. Lawther is incandescent in his portrayal of Billy, both with his humour and in the more sombre parts of the film.

There is a glaring absence of depth to Billy’s character at times. Billy initially appears self-obsessed, and while his external pizazz is enough to attract the wrath of the school bullies, there’s very little discussion of who Billy is as a person or his identity.

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