'Alex Strangelove’s' director talks us through its glorious and uplifting ending

Craig Johnson has had the conclusion in his head for a decade
Alex Strangelove conclusion
[Image: Netflix]

WARNING: The following article ruins the ending for Alex Strangelove.

 

So if you’re yet to watch the romantic comedy then you shouldn’t proceed. Instead, bookmark the article, watch “Alex Strangelove,” and then return to read Craig Johnson’s thoughts.

 

 

The ending of "Alex Strangelove" is rather wonderful.

 

Having finally accepted that he is gay, Alex Truelove (Daniel Doherty) takes to the YouTube channel that he runs with his best friend and former girlfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) to tell their followers about his sexuality.

At this point, dozens more videos of other teenagers coming out of the closet appear alongside the footage of Alex. During my conversation with Craig Johnson I asked the film’s writer and director about the clips, specifically whether they were real videos.

“Yeah, every one of them,” he insisted. “They were authentic coming out videos that kids posted online. And we harvested them. It was a huge process. We reached out to hundreds and hundreds of kids who posted them online and got a response from a few. So those are all real.”

Johnson also explained why he felt the need to incorporate them into the ending. “I just wanted to give some social context to the movie.”

“I think the movie would have spoken for itself on its own without that segment. And it was a big part of our editing process to decide whether or not to include that. We just found that it had an impact on people.”

“And we feel that we did it in a way that didn’t feel didactic or heavy-handed, but it gave the social context that Alex’s story is one of millions of stories of queer kids and gay kids and bi kids and trans kids, and everyone in between.”

“They all have a unique coming out story. Alex is just one amongst many.”

Even though Johnson originally wrote "Alex Strangelove" back in 2008, Johnson insists that he had the ending in place “from the very first draft.”

“The coming out videos that kids post were a relatively new phenomenon in 2008, but I had picked up on it. So I wanted to include that. But it has just become even more a phenomenon in the last 10 years, what with the It Gets Better project and those videos.”

Johnson admitted that he did make one rather big change to the film during this time, though.

“One of the biggest shifts was high schoolers just becoming more open and more progressive, and I wanted to include that. So Alex went to a progressive high school where there are gay kids and trans kids and it is OK to come out.”

“It is not an external conflict. He wasn’t going to get the s*** kicked out of him if he came out. The conflict was much more internal. Those re-writes came over the last few years, as I made his world very open to coming out.”

“I didn’t think that interfered in my original idea. In fact it kind of made things harder. Because once you have every option to date that doesn’t make it any easier. It just makes it, ‘Now I am overwhelmed by choice’.”

 
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