Review: The Boys in the Band

Year: 2020
Runtime: 121 Minutes
Writers:  Mart Crowley (based on the play and the motion picture “The Boys in the Band” by), Mart Crowley (screenplay by)
Director: Joe Mantello
Stars: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer 

Special Guest Writer: Emily Gunn

LGBTQ movies have, at long last, flourished in modern years uncovering gripping tales of ‘hidden’ love stories. Netflix recently joined writer Matt Crowley by adapting his 1968 Broadway play “The Boys in the Band” (2020), reviving the truth telling depiction of a group of gay males living in New York. Director Joe Mantello takes the six excelling actors, showcasing intense monologues, to express the difficulties of being queer during this condescending era. 

Strutting through Manhatten to the soundtrack of Erma franklin, the films launches you into the toe-tapping year of American pop culture. Jim Parson’s performance as Michael is outstanding for this title; swinging ice packs and crab sticks into his rooftop apartment; hoping to delight his fabulous party guests. Despite the majority of the film being set in one compact location, Mantello cleverly swoops the camera throughout the flat in the opening; angling past doorways and through bodies; feeling as if you’re bouncing off the gossip. 

Brian Hutchison, Tuc Watkins, and Jim Parsons in The Boys in the Band (2020) © 2020 Netflix, Inc.

The drama begins elated and comical, mirroring the original play’s choreography. The men sway their hips between the sofas clinking glasses with comments such as, “If your mother could see you now she would have a stroke” (The Boys in the Band, 2020). During these moments, you can somewhat mistake the film for a twenty-first-century tale, until the nervy outside world interrupts. When the passing neighbours glare through the hallway, tutting at the men’s dance moves and openness, your reeled back into the shallow perceptions during that time. This skin-crawling vision only escalates as Michael’s (Jim Parson) straight friend Alan (Brian Hutchison) arrives unexpected, roller coasting the hyperactive tone into a room of dismay. 

“Despite the majority of the film being set in one compact location, Mantello cleverly swoops the camera throughout the flat in the opening; angling past doorways and through bodies; feeling as if you’re bouncing off the gossip. “

Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons in The Boys in the Band (2020)  © 2020 NETLIX, Inc.

After endless hours of alcohol, and amusing tales of mischief, the characters begin to discuss their past sorrows. Michael dares his buddies to ring their one true love, aggressively forcing the old rotary phone into their boozed-up laps. Becoming abruptly depressing, the film’s tone spirals. Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington) takes the lead in calling his childhood sweetheart who he swam naked swim with at their family home. To his dismay, the man’s wife answers the phone, leaving him ashamed and crippled in tears. As each male unveils their loneliness of being forgotten through time; never remembered in return; it leaves you with the startling realisation of how many frightful men were hiding their sexuality from the world. 

Star Trek’s trophy actor Spock (Zachary Quinto) plays his role as the reserved birthday boy Harold with such curiosity. Smoking around the lounge in his turquoise suit, speaking leisurely as if exasperated from life, he creates an edgy atmosphere for the film reminiscing of the men’s hostile attitude towards New Yorkers. His relationship with Michael (Jim Parson) becomes complicated towards the ending credits, as your left with nothing but an exhausted dinner host wandering aimlessly across the streets at night.

“This film is a testament in shadowing the cruelty men and women went through to hide away their emotions whilst countries revolted against the new.”

Zachary Quinto, Robin De Jesus & Charlie Carver in The Boys in the Band (2020)  © 2020 NETLIX, Inc.

The director’s attempt to reflect the play’s themes and style worked coherently in revving up the narrative for “The Boys in the Band”. Allowing for the mirror image of the stage, bouncing off cues and props, gave you a sense of their theatrical presence. However, as the voice of the movie turned serious, prolonged silences between the troubled characters gave it an eerie uncomfortable viewing. 

Set in a distant past time, before the daring campaigner “Milk” (2009), this film is a testament in shadowing the cruelty men and women went through to hide away their emotions whilst countries revolted against the new. It’s a piece to be congratulated for its honourable acting from a passionate cast, all involved within the LGBTQ community, something that within itself is a turning point for Hollywood. 

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