Let’s Get Reel: Alex Strangelove


Lauren Toneatto ’21, Life & Style Columnist

When approaching Netflix Original series or movies, I have learned to take them with a grain of salt. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before had me smiling from ear to ear for the entire film. However, The Kissing Booth had me rolling my eyes every other minute. So, when it came to Alex Strangelove, another Netflix Original romantic comedy, I had my concerns. Ultimately I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this heart-warming romantic comedy.

On the eve of losing his virginity to long-time girlfriend, Claire (Madeline Weinstein), Alex’s (Daniel Doheny) world turns upside down when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale) at a party. Suddenly, the high school senior who thought he had everything under control embarks on a journey of sexual self-discovery. 

Alex is clearly the heart and soul of this film. Smart, endearing, and all-around adorable, Doheny does a fantastic job of embodying the film’s protagonist. While the film certainly is a romantic comedy, it is nonetheless a coming of age story too. On the outside, Alex appears to have his life figured out: his grades are stellar and he’s waiting to hear from Columbia University; he has a beautiful and loving girlfriend and he has a solid and loyal group of friends. Yet, beyond this perfect façade, we find questions of identity and happiness that Alex struggles with. What happens when you meet someone and they change the potential trajectory of your life? For Alex, the answer isn’t so bad. 

Upon meeting Elliot, Alex’s adorable personality is enhanced as he develops a crush on the older, openly gay teen. Full of charm, it’s no wonder you’re rooting for Alex to find love the whole film. The movie perfectly balances these lovable moments with serious scenes. Alex Strangelove tackles trying to figure out identity when everything you thought you knew suddenly becomes unclear. 

In part, this confusion comes from Alex’s girlfriend, Claire. While Alex is someone you want to be around 24/7, I found Claire to be quite the opposite. For me, Elliot was a neutral, or frankly lackluster, love interest. Yet, I despised Claire so much that I was begging Alex and Elliot to get together already so she could be out of the picture. Granted, she was in a tough situation. It is revealed her mother is terminally ill and she’s losing her boyfriend and long-time best friend all at once. Also, it can’t be easy learning your boyfriend has feelings for someone else as you’re having sex for the first time. So, I can cut her some slack in these cases. 

Nevertheless, it felt as if Claire was peer-pressuring Alex into losing his virginity for the majority of the film. In addition, after she’s admitted early to Columbia University and Alex is still awaiting his decision letter, she isn’t the most supportive girlfriend. All I could think for the whole film was that Alex deserved better. Someone as sweet, compassionate and sensitive as Alex doesn’t deserve a girlfriend who is constantly holding him back. 

One character I was pleasantly surprised with is Dell (Daniel Zolghadri), Alex’s best friend. They are an unlikely pairing, but one that works surprisingly well. Dell is much more concentrated on hooking up with girls and going to parties while Alex works hard as student body president, all the while trying to maintain his straight A’s. Nonetheless, Alex and Dell relate to a lack of belonging. Despite his outgoing, frat-boy persona, Dell is incredibly insecure about his appearance, and is constantly getting rejected by his childhood crush. When Alex is feeling down and questioning his sexuality, it’s Dell who gives him the most honest and sincere advice. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Alex Strangelove. It doesn’t have all the glitz and glam as a block-buster rom-com, but it does have all the necessary charm and “aw-worthy” moments. 

By the end, all I wanted to do was give Alex a big hug and tell him everything was going to be okay. The perfect combination of feel-good vibes and confronting an often-unspoken reality, Alex Strangelove is definitely worth watching.