Set in 2011 Hollywood, Florida, Three Months is MTV’s answer to the coming-of-age gay rom-com. Out gay actor Troye Sivan headlines the film, in addition to penning two new songs for the feature. This marks Sivan’s return to the acting sphere after leaving a mark in 2018’s powerful conversion-camp drama, Boy Erased. Joining Sivan in supporting roles are Viveik Kalra (Blinded by the Light), Brianne Tju (Amazon Prime’s I Know What You Did Last Summer), Judy Greer (Jawbreaker, Halloween Kills), and Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, Flowers in the Attic). Three Months aims to tackle the stigma that exists around modern-day HIV contraction, reveling in the light-hearted fun of youth as it comingles with the looming specter of STD-related test results.
Sivan plays Caleb, a spunky teen on the verge of graduation from high school. He’s the type of boy who would rather stay home with his grandmother (Burstyn) watching a Golden Girls marathon than attend graduation. After a condom breaks and he is exposed to HIV from “a Slavic guy at a biker bar,” Caleb is told that any test he may receive will be inconclusive. It can take up to three months (cue the title drop!) for HIV antibodies to make an appearance, and thus Caleb is now tethered to getting one test a month before he can receive the all-clear. Three Months is about the waiting period, giving the viewer vignette-style peeks into our characters during the months of June, July, and August.
Caleb works at the Little Bear Food Mart with his bestie, Dara (Tju), and their insecure boss (Judy Greer). However, Caleb finds love in the most unlikely locale: his LGBT support group. Here he meets Estha (Kalra), a fellow teen who is also awaiting HIV results. The two share an instant connection; Estha, who hails from India and whose music of choice is Taylor Swift, provides a welcome channel for Caleb’s doubts and frustrations about his status. Caleb offers up Estha a ride together on his tandem bike—the cuteness is almost too much to handle. Both Kalra and Sivan handle the material with grace, and share tangible, sizzling chemistry.
This newfound relationship is not without its share of issues, but that is part of the magic that comes with the coming-of-age genre. Caleb is really looking for “someone who wants to do dumb shit with him that also wants to make out,” because as great as Dara is, she does not fill this quota. Young love is never easy, but I have to admit my heart was aflutter during Caleb and Estha’s adorable first kiss under a gorgeously-lit beach dock. The love story is not expressly the primary focus, because at the end of the day, Caleb’s singular experience takes us on this wonderful journey.
With Troye Sivan filling in as Caleb, Three Months carries a note of authenticity, even bringing along his music to further inject vulnerability and realism. The approach to HIV is every bit as naïve as Caleb’s character—his window into any type of real-world application to his potential status arrives in the form of The Real World San Franciso. Oh, what a world we live in now where a character can simply binge-watch a show from their laptop. Dara also provides insight for Caleb through her own borderline-obsessive internet research.
Not to delve into spoilers, but the film’s message is ultimately that of positivity and acceptance. Whether Caleb contracts HIV or not, the trajectory of his existence stays exactly the same—Caleb can live his life happily with or without a positive result. Presenting this type of message within a film directed at the youth of today is perfect exposure to squash the HIV-is-a-death-sentence stigma. The future is unwritten, and Three Months is living proof that one can write it any way they wish.
Three Months provides HIV test results when it premieres on Paramount+ on Wednesday, February 23rd.