Not content with giving the rock scene a much-needed dose of bratty rebellion and community spirit, Yungblud’s now making the move into film. Rather than an ego-led adventure though, original scripted short Mars sees the musician (real name Dominic Harrison) assemble a cast and crew “that fully represent the communities who’s stories we wanted to tell.” The result is a beautiful exploration of trans, queer and non-binary joy.
Set in a northern town and highlighting the monumental everyday, there are comparisons to Skins and My Mad Fat Diary, with Mars carrying on their legacy of making sprawling topics feel human. There are house parties, drunken adventures in an arcade, teenage conversations about sex and lots of chips. Director Abel Rubinstein makes every second of Mars’ 18-minute runtime count, creating a lived-in world that feels real, despite the flourishes of surreal fantasy.
Starring Heartstopper‘s Yasmin Finney as lead character Charlie Acaster, alongside best friend Maisie (Leah Choudhry) and stand in LGBTQ+ support group leader Pete (Pete MacHale), Mars makes nods to parental acceptance, GPs barring access to hormone therapy and the struggle with labels. Finney delivers a brilliantly nuanced performance as someone who’s confident, but never completely comfortable and really anchors the whole thing, while both Choudhry and MacHale offer a believable warmth that never feels overcooked.
The brief run time means the supporting cast don’t get much of the spotlight but there are definitely more stories to be told in this universe, if any streaming services are watching. Ultimately though, this sci-fi coming-of-age tale is one of self-empowerment. As Pete tells Charlie, “there is joy. There is so much fucking joy, but not if you’re too embarrassed to go looking for it.”
Mars is inspired by Yungblud’s emotive rock ballad of the same name, lifted from 2020’s ‘Weird!’. The song tells the story of a fan he met on tour in Maryland, who was struggling to convince her parents that she was a trans girl and not their son. “They’d say it was just a phase she was going through but she saved up money and got good grades because she wanted to bring her parents to a Yungblud show because they thought it might help them understand who she was,” Harrison told NME at the time. “After the show, her parents told them that they’d seen other kids like her and their passion, fire and ability to be individuals and it helped accept them for who she was.”
“I just couldn’t fathom it. A community that we built and are a part of allowed someone’s life to be completely changed and allowed her to be accepted by her parents,” he continued. It stands testament to the welcoming community that Yungblud has been building at his chaotic punk shows over the years. This is ambitious and heartfelt filmmaking that makes you want to be part of something.
- Director: Abel Rubinstein
- Starring: Yasmin Finney, Leah Choudhry, Pete MacHale
- Release date: November 17 (9pm GMT via Moment)