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BEAUTIFUL THING-lite, set in the bland British suburbs. Charming waif-boy Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone) is just your average teenager, prone to all manner of insecurities and the usual harassment by fellow students and parents. One thing he's sure of, though: He's gay and has a massive crush on ostensibly unattainable school stud John Dixon (Brad Gorton). Still, Steve's got more going on than his stereotypically chubby next door neighbor and confidante Linda (Charlotte Brittain); only sixteen, he's got the sex in public restrooms thing down, including the disenchantment that goes with the territory. He has a brief encounter with writer Glen (David Elliot), only to later discover that his dream boat is a married man with an infant: Welcome to closeted reality. So imagine Steve's surprise when he runs into macho John cruising for an easy pick up. John tries to make believe that he doesn't know what came over him, but develops his own crush on Steven that begins to drive him crazy. The lads stare soulfully at each other at a school dance before finally consummating their attraction, and it's all still terribly confusing. Oxford-bound John is adamant about keeping their relationship under wraps, and his involvement with Steven doesn't shield him from self-loathing and not-so-latent homophobia. Steven, meanwhile, gets gay-bashed by John's pal Kevin (Tim Harris), the school bully, and starts hanging out with Kevin's ex-girlfriend Jessica (Stacy Hart). Wacky complications ensue. Simon Shore's feature directing debut displays considerable confidence and aplomb. But his fairly hackneyed sense of storytelling seems to value accessibility above complexity, so don't expect any surprises. The saving graces of the film are Silverstone's winning performance and Gorton's visible assets.