‘The Boys in the Band’ Movie Review
Critics rating: 4/5
Critics comment: “When a group of gay friends throws a birthday party for their prickly pal, the evening soon turns sour.”
Director: Joe Mantello
Cast: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer
Released: September 30 (Netflix)
‘The Boys in the Band’ Review– The film is an exciting one, produced by Ryan Murphy, often called the Golden boy of Netflix, starring Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto. The film has heavy dialogues, and the setting is in a Manhattan apartment. It is based on a seminal text, a gay play by Mart Crowley, which came up in 1968. A significant incident took place after the debut of this play.
In 1969, the Stonewall riots started, which paved the way for the modern LGBTQ+ movement for equal rights. This was the beginning of the tough battle towards the acknowledgment and perception of the queer.
A significant defect of the film is its narrow focus on other LGBTQ+ people except for gay men. The aftereffect of the movie is volatile. The entire cast of the movie is the same as in the 2018 Broadway theatre production. Hot Mantello has reconstructed the whole crew of the play in the film. Crowley co-wrote the screenplay with Ned Martel until he died in March.
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The story is about a single evening where the drama unfolds. Michael is an insecure scriptwriter who lavishly spends money by organizing a birthday party for his enigmatic friend Harold. The guest list for the evening is entirely composed of gay pals except for Alan, who is unaware of Michael’s sexual orientation. Many humorous talks go between Donald, who is prototyped as melancholic, Bernard, Emory, and Lary and Hank, the gay couple.
The temperament of Alan shows how homophobia existed in 1968, but Crowley had demonstrated the queer self-loathing very well in the play. Everybody performs well in the film – as a dimwitted rent lad, Charlie supplies light relief. Parson is the vastly devastating one, torturing and tortured Michael. A vocal assault for him is a distraction from his paralyzing inability to mediate between his sexual and religious beliefs.
Under the intoxication of alcohol, Michael taunts every friend present in the room by uncovering embarrassing incidents of past life. Even at a time, he makes racist comments making others feel offended. He jokes at Larry’s promiscuous relationship, alluding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that ended a decade ago. Michael abusively mocks Emory by calling him unattractive.
This two-hour drama is very carefully layered, which meticulously analyzes the years of oppression faced by the gay community. Through the expressions and attitudes of the characters, Mantello highlights the ostracisation that has resulted in nasty cynicism.
The Boys in the Band is an artistic representation of the previous repressed era, which talks with the present. Mantello’s skillful treatment of various elements in the film makes the film desirable. Even the dressing of the characters is stylishly done with bell-bottoms and with the proper usage of monochromes.
With the induction of the flashback technique that is cinematized outside the apartment, Mantello explores Crowley’s strategy by making you forget that you are watching a film made out of a play. He also highlights and shows the political condition of contemporary time.
With the depiction of Bomer, who has been established as a superhero under the shower, the director poses a question of why has he not been used in this look before? This film is not only a gray and doleful comedy but something more than that. It is a portrayal of queer history to question some stereotyped taboos.