Staff Picks: From a coming-of-age to a cookbook, 3 creative takes on familiar formats

Closet Monster

You think you know what Closet Monster will do, but you don’t exactly. After all, it has the familiar beats of many coming-of-age stories: the (hopefully) last summer at home, a pending college application, a desperate crush. But director Stephen Dunn has spun these clichés into a fresh take based on his experiences growing up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and it is clear from the film’s opening scenes that this story is personal. We meet Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup) as a boy, in the apparent bliss just before his parents’ separation and before he witnesses a brutal hate crime that will saddle him with mental and physical stress for years to come. Oscar copes by retreating into fantasy worlds (the hamster keeping him company voiced by none other than Isabella Rossellini), and it’s in the film’s twists and turns of magical realism and …

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