Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Available on demand, from Dark Star Pictures...

Pulse--Ollie (Daniel Monks), a gay teenager in Perth, Australia, has long been in love with his straight best friend Luke (Scott Lee). He undergoes a rather vaguely-explained experimental surgery that turns him, physically, into a gorgeous young woman, Olivia (Jaimee Peasley). Then he gets to learn about how much fun it is when guys desire you: Fumbling drunken sex; the walk of shame; half-intentional Machiavellian agendas among your friends; clashes with his single Mom (Caroline Brazier).

Stevie Cruz-Martin directed this intriguing, nominally sci-fi drama, from a script by Monks. The technique is unfussy naturalism. Most of the time we see Ollie as his own self-image, a frizzy-haired, toothy kid in a t-shirt; only when we see Olivia from an external point of view do we see the glamorous young woman.

What we get heavy doses of here, and what the movie is really about, is the terror and agony of negotiating sexual adolescence. There are sustained scenes of teens giggling nervously as they maneuver through awkward interactions, and sustained scenes of teens dancing and partying in blaring clubs. They're all completely believable, and your tolerance for them is likely to be roughly analogous to your tolerance for such scenes in real life.

Monks and his costars are vibrant, skillful actors, and the movie is quite fearless in exploiting the dramatic possibilities of the idea, from the heartbreaking to the lurid. If the movie has a message, it would seem to be that putting a teenage boy, regardless of orientation, in charge of a beautiful body is something like giving a toddler a machine gun.

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