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Originally published Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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‘North Sea Texas’: Love ebbs and flows in coming-of-age tale | Movie review

A movie review of “North Sea Texas,” a passionate, entertaining Dutch-Belgian drama starring Jelle Florizoone as a lonely teenager growing up at a sea resort, where he falls in love with a handsome neighbor.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

“North Sea Texas,” with Jelle Florizoone, Eva van der Gucht, Mathias Vergels, Ben Van den Heuvel, Thomas Couman. Directed by Bavo Defurne, from a screenplay by Defurne and Yves Verbraeken, based on a novel by André Sollie. 96 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains nudity, sex scenes). In Dutch, with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.

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This passionate, entertaining import ends with a salute to Dan Savage’s pro-gay “It Gets Better” campaign — in the form of a cheeky dedication “to all the kids whose parents would not allow them the chance to take part in this film.”

Unprotected by parental guidance, the hormone-driven characters in “North Sea Texas” do what they can to satisfy their urges at a sad little Belgian sea resort that gives the film its title. The hero, Pim (played as a child by Ben Van den Heuvel and as a teenager by Jelle Florizoone), feels abandoned by his accordion-playing mother, Yvette (Eva van der Gucht).

Pim adopts the family of a fickle, older neighbor boy, Gino (Mathias Vergels), who seduces and then leaves him for an out-of-town girl who promises stability. When Yvette brings home a handsome lover, Zoltan (Thomas Couman), Pim falls for him as well, though he rejects the advances of Gino’s lonely sister.

Sexual choices in this place are as limited as siblings and friends, and sexual orientation doesn’t seem to count for much. Gino may be happy to share a beach tent with Pim, but he seems just as content with a girlfriend. Zoltan may be older, but he seems just as available.

Earlier this year, “North Sea Texas” won the Montreal Film Festival award for Best Debut Feature. Splendidly acted, especially by Florizoone, whose every thought appears to register on his wide-open features, it’s more than promising.

The director, Bavo Defurne, suggests a kinship with his cast that’s sometimes uncanny. And when it comes to delivering an ending that’s both provocative and semi-conventionally “happy,” he’s no slouch.

John Hartl:

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