Never has coming out been such a non-event as it is in North Sea Texas. There’s something refreshing about that, but that’s also part of the problem. Despite there being a pileup of occurrences and incident, nothing seems to matter in the life of the main character, Pim (Jelle Florizoone).
He’s a silent observer throughout his life, never reacting too much to what happens in spite of repeated parental abandonment, unrequited love, and the suffocation of small town life in the 1950s. The Belgian town presented here brushes up to the edges of magical realism in the ways that nothing seems to matter beyond the internal pressures of Pim. He experiences little to no homophobia, winds up with a happy ending, and ends up for the better when his neglectful mother runs off with a travelling carny. Is it realistic? No, but it’s certainly lulling in its quietness and profuseness of kitsch.
North Sea Texas does excel in creating beautiful images and a lovely atmosphere, especially in scenes of erotic tenderness and exploration between Pim and Gino (Mathias Vergels). It manages to create an entirely hermetic world that seems to exist alternately outside and within Pim’s imagination, like he’s some kind of benevolent god creating order and stability in the face of opposition and chaos.
Yet this doesn’t make for a compelling viewing experience as the characters remain in stasis, as if we’re watching them try to emote through amber. Pim is one-note and a bit of a waste of Florizoone’s clear talents as a performer. North Sea Texas is clearly aiming for some kind of emotional catharsis or rapture in its final moments, but it falls limp as its failed to give voice to Pim’s frustration. He’s a dreamer wafting through his gloom in pretty lighting and ambient music playing in the background.