FILM REVIEW: BFI Flare Festival- Golden Delicious

Brian Butler March 22, 2023

Jake Wong is an avid school basketball player living in Vancouver and happily involved with girlfriend Valerie. When new boy Aleks moves in to the house behind, there’s immediately a spark and a shift in Jake’s sexual desires. And so begins a tangled tale, beautifully portrayed, of dreams, desires, family traditions, cultural pressures and the complex contradictions of adolescence.

What director Jason Karman presents us with is carefully interwoven stories and situations that often mirror one another: for instance Jake cheats on Valerie and his father George cheats on his mother Andrea. Both are outraged by the others’ behaviour which produces a dramatic irony that is lost on the characters.

The storyline, which also involves homophobia within the basketball team, shows fascinating and unexpected trajectories in each of the main characters’ lives.

The growing realisation within the Wong family is that Jake really doesn’t want to play hoops, and his sister Janet really does want to follow her parents into the restaurant business – neither option finds approval from the now separated George and Andrea.

But family traditions can be broken and family and sexual histories re-written. The film also deals with the growing insidious nature of social media – Jake’s loss of virginity to Val and his outing as gay at a party are both instantly transmitted across Instagram and the like.

The film has a slow pace for its romantic storyline set against the frantic activity of the basketball games, and this works really well to give another clash of realties.

Ultimately it’s a story of families and how they adjust, of the journey of discovery to a Queer identity and reconciliation that allows people to move on. Cardi Wong is an athletic, moody, highly conflicted emotional being as Jake. Chris Carson as Aleks is equally torn between anger and love and Parmiss Sehat plays the jilted and wronged Valerie with subtle shifts in her character.

It’s altogether a joy to watch and reaches its goal – Jake’s realisation that when he looks at himself, he likes what he sees.

Golden Delicious was showing at BFI LGBTQ+ Flare Film Festival. Look out for future screenings and releases, this link for tickets.