Were the World Mine is a rare thing: a gay coming-of-age film with the high production values, smart writing, and top-notch acting to transcend the clichés of the genre with the charm to appeal to general audiences. The action involves a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (complete with magic love potion) at an elite all-male academy, and the theme, unsurprisingly, is "the course of true love never did run smooth." The film is an outrageously unrealistic fantasy, but the filmmakers persuasively draw viewers into their magical world by telling the story with such deft sweetness, good humor, and restraint that it would be hard not to be beguiled into suspending disbelief.
The soundtrack includes enough snippets of dialogue to provide a contextual reminder of the story's flow for listeners who have seen the film, but not enough to make much sense to those who have not. The film is a musical and its musical numbers flow naturally out of the context of the plot, such as a vocal audition, music to accompany the play's performance, and most frequently, in the protagonist's dream/fantasy sequences, including a memorable ballet performed by the rugby team, accompanied by Mendelssohn's incidental music for the play. The score is by Tim Sandusky and Jessica Fogle, the former primarily responsible for the underscoring and electronic sections, and the latter primarily for the songs. Like the scenario, the score is of a quality at least a notch or two above the standard for adolescent romance films and is consistently inventive, lively, and able to sidestep the usual musical clichés of this genre. The songs, with lyrics by screenwriter Cory James Krueckeberg, consist of lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which, though often gleaned from dramatically unrelated speeches and sections of the play, are skillfully reassembled so that they work effectively in this context. Fogle's settings are exceptionally lovely and melodically memorable, particularly "Be as Thou Wast Wont," "Were the World Mine," and "Sleep Sound." It's a pleasure to hear some of Shakespeare's most famous lines set with a thoroughly modern musical sensibility, and with so much insight, grace, and wit. Tanner Cohen and Nathaniel David Becker have light but solid tenors that are well-matched and they make a strong impression as singing actors. Cohen is especially impressive, and his falsetto is strikingly pure. Zelda Williams brings a powerful but tender presence to her songs. The sound is bright and clear, and on the loud side.