“Innocence is no excuse…” ~ Friends Forever
Friends Forever (aka Venner for altid) is a Danish coming of age film about a shy straight teen who befriends a brash gay bully at his new school. The catch? It was released in 1987. The treatment of the gay characters is remarkably progressive. Unfortunately, the treatment of women is not.
I’m amazed this film exists. Here’s my spoiler filled recap!
Act One: The New Kid
Scene 1: Copenhagen High School.
KRISTIAN (Our gawky leading man): Hi, I’m new here. Where are the class rooms?
PRINCIPAL: Class rooms? This is Copenhagen High School where students run wild through the courtyard!
PATRICK (A hot blonde bully): Hi new kid. Let’s play a game called “The Wall.” You’ll stand by a wall and my gang will throw tennis balls at you.
KRISITIAN: Okay. Anything to fit in.
HENRIK (A dreamy nerd with a pony tail): I’ll save you new kid! Let’s talk about astrology and martial arts while gazing into each other’s eyes.
KRISTIAN: I like you Henrik.
KRISTIAN: Egad! My social reputation! Henrik, I can’t talk to you anymore.
HENRIK: Your loss. (HENRIK exits the movie)
KRISITAN: But we’re only 30 minutes in. I thought you were a major character! Heeenriiik!!!
Act Two: The Bullies
Scene 2: Copenhagen High School.
(Trigger warning #1)
KRISTIAN: I got a makeover! I’m cool now!
PATRICK: Yeah you are hot stuff. Let’s tear the clothes off a teen girl for laughs.
KRISITIAN: Okay. Anything to fit in.
SOPHIE: This will age about as well as the rape scene in Sixteen Candles.
Scene 3: The big city.
PATRICK: Now let’s go clubbing with my friends!
OTHER BLONDE BULLY: I’d rather loot and pillage! (Breaks a shop window. Gets arrested).
PATRICK: Vandalism? I never thought my gang of bullies would stoop so low. Kristian let’s leave these low lifes behind and share my bed in a platonic way.
KRISTIAN: (crawls into bed). Now all we need are some naked ladies! (falls asleep)
PATRICK: I love you. Good night.
Act Three: Romance
Scene 4: Video Store
PATRICK: My parents kicked me out. I work in a nightclub now to pay rent on an apartment. You should get a job too.
KRISITAN: That’s a good idea. I’ll work at this video store and sleep with a lady clerk.
LADY CLERK: I have no inner life. (LADY CLERK exits the movie)
Scene 5: Patrick’s nightclub
(Trigger Warning #2)
NIGHTCLUB SINGER: I’m in my mid-40’s and in the mood for some 16-year-old boy. Let’s bang.
(Fun Fact: The age of consent in Denmark is 15.)
KRISTIAN: Wow. She really loves me!
NIGHTCLUB SINGER: Later kid. (NIGHTCLUB SINGER exits the movie)
Scene 6: A Soccer field
KRISTIAN: Hey Patrick! I lost my virginity! Twice!
(Kristian catches Patrick kissing a Hot Soccer Player)
PATRICK: Kristian… I can explain!
KRISTIAN: Egad! That’s not normal!
HOT SOCCER PLAYER: Sooo… Threesome?
Scene 7: Copenhagen High School.
SOPHIE: Hi Kristian. I’m the girl you SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. I’m suddenly attracted to you.
KRISTIAN: Great. Then you can listen to me moan about my best friend being gay.
SOPHIE: Boring. Don’t be so uptight.
Act Four: Activism
Scene 8: A school assembly
BUSINESS MAN: Why should my business hire any of you deadbeat teens?
PATRICK: You should hire me because… I’M GAY!
KRISTIAN: Egad! Why did you come out in a public forum?
PATRICK: Because the movie’s nearly over.
KRISTIAN: Don’t you laugh at him. He’s my best friend! My GAY best friend!
PRINCIPAL: This assembly is over and I’m cutting ALL funding for student activities! That’ll learn ‘ya!
Scene 9: Patrick’s apartment.
(Patrick and the Hot Soccer Player are having really hot sex. Like Queer as Folk hot. In a film released in 1987. Its mind blowing.)
KRISTIAN: Hi Patrick! I made flyers to protest the cutting of school funding and OMG you’re having gay sex! NOT THAT IT BOTHERS ME! I’M TOTALLY COOL WITH YOU BEING GAY! I HAVE SEX WITH WOMEN!
HOT SOCCER PLAYER: Sooo… threesome?
(Kristian makes out with Sophie… the girl he SEXUALLY ASSAULTED… to reestablish his heterosexual credentials)
Scene 10: Copenhagen High School
(Kristian, Patrick and Sophie toss flyers around the school.)
KRISTIAN: The principal is dumb! Walk out of your classrooms and demand funding! For student parties and… whatever students do in Copenhagen!
PRINCIPAL: Stop this.
KRISTIAN: Never! I’ve come of age!
(Kristian kisses Sophie.)
(Kristian kisses Patrick)
PATRICK: It’s about damn time.
KRISTIAN: Sooo… threesome?
(Instead, the cast performs a fabulous musical curtain call! No, really.)
At age 27, Stefan Henszelman stuffed everything he could into his first full length film. The screenplay packs two protagonists, five love interests, three musical numbers and multiple subplots into 90 minutes. I was not surprised to learn that Henszelman had adapted it from his own novel. He would direct one more film before succumbing to AIDS related illness in 1991.
The teen leads have no imdb credits beyond this film. The nightclub singer, Lill Lindfors, was a presenter for Eurovision. The hot soccer player, Morten Stig Christensen, was a retired Olympic Handball player… who agreed to a m/m love scene and frontal nudity. Again, I cannot overstress that this was released in 1987.
I enjoyed Friends Forever but I’m not sure I can recommend it. The central friendship is diluted by the messy screenplay and the misogyny leaves a bitter taste. However, if you’re interested in queer film history it’s worth putting this on your radar. You can stream it on Amazon.
What were some of your earliest memories of LGBT+ cinema? Are you interested in giving Friends Forever a look? For more films about gay/straight male friendships click here. For more reviews of LGBT+ media in general click here.