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A big career step for Troye Sivan

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The biggest takeaway from “Three Months,” an open-hearted new teen drama on Paramount+, is that Troye Sivan has real acting chops. 


movie review

Running time: 104 minutes. Not Rated. On Paramount+.

The relatability and cheeky boyishness that make the “Bloom” singer such an appealing musician leap effortlessly to the screen, and would knock ’em dead in countless other roles. (He also appeared in the film “Boy Erased,” but in a much smaller part that didn’t seize his personality.)

Here, Sivan plays Caleb, a gay high school senior in Florida, whose life is upended when he discovers somebody he slept with has HIV. Terrified, Caleb has to be tested regularly over the next three months to ensure he didn’t also contract the virus.

At a support group one night, he meets Estha (Viveik Kalra), who’s also awaiting test results. Estha has a dry sense of humor and traditional Indian parents who don’t know he’s gay. 

A romance between Estha (Viveik Kalra, left) and Caleb (Troy Sivan) blooms in "Three Months."
A romance between Estha (Viveik Kalra, left) and Caleb (Troye Sivan) blooms in “Three Months.”
Brian Douglas

The pair begin a flirtation — first through jokey texts, then fun Florida time-wasting — that’s made more powerful by their secret. It’s also refreshing, for once, to see a talky, charismatic, artistic character (Caleb wears white Converse sneakers so he can draw pictures on them) chase after the quiet, practical one. The dynamic is almost always reversed in movies, and especially LGBTQ ones.

Some heightened plot lines in writer-director Jared Frieder’s film don’t land as well as the tender moments do. The romance is admirably never overplayed for sentiment. For instance, Judy Greer plays the married, straight owner of a convenience store Caleb works at, and she starts an affair with his best friend and co-worker Dara (Brianne Tju). That arc never quite rings true.

Caleb (Troye Sivan) works with Dara (Brianne Tju) at a Florida convenience store.
Caleb (Troye Sivan) works with Dara (Brianne Tju) at a Florida convenience store.
Paramount

Regardless, the wins outweigh the flaws. It’s a joy to see Kalra, who made such a big impression in “Blinded by the Light” (a movie that more people should see), back in a strong role and doing totally different work. His character in “Blinded” couldn’t wipe the grin off his face; with coy Estha, Caleb has to earn every smile. Sivan and Kalra have honest chemistry together.

The cast list is impressive for a genre enjoyed mostly by high schoolers. After being ditched by his mom for being gay, Caleb lives with his accepting grandma, played by Ellen Burstyn (Louis Gossett Jr. plays her husband). At this point in her career, Burstyn doesn’t get enough credit for how tremendous she consistently is. Following up “Pieces of a Woman” with “Three Months” is a real one-two punch of power and poignancy.

Frieder’s calm ending might surprise some viewers (let’s just say it doesn’t end with a Ferris wheel finale like “Love Simon”). Though, without ramming it down our throats, the final scenes express how sometimes the right person enters our life for as long as they need to be there.



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