The Boys in the Band (2020) Review

Based off the Broadway play of the same name, this film cannot quite shake it’s theatre roots despite it’s fantastic performances.

Certificate: 15

Director: Joe Mantello

Screenwriter: Mart Crowley

Starring: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 121 Minutes

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

In 1968 New York City – when being gay was still considered to be best kept behind closed doors – a group of friends gather for a raucous birthday party hosted by Michael, in honor of the sharp-dressed and sharp-tongued Harold (Zachary Quinto). Other partygoers include; Hank, a school teacher who has just left his wife; Bernard, a librarian tiptoeing around fraught codes of friendship alongside Emory, a decorator who never holds back; and a guileless hustler hired to be Harold’s gift for the night. What begins as an evening of drinks and laughs gets upended when Alan, Michael’s straight-laced college roommate, shows up unexpectedly and each man is challenged to confront long-buried truths – By Netflix

The Director did a clever thing with this film when he cast his original cast from the 2018 stage production.  Meaning all the actors are already comfortable in their roles and known their characters.  But that can also be kind of a negative as well.  IT means there is no new take on the characters, the cast falls back into the roles that they have previously played and it doesn’t get any fresh eyes.  It is even directed by the same guy that directed the Broadway production, so this is either laziness or brilliance, I can’t decide.

Of course this is a really strong cast and because of their familiarity with the source material the performances are strong as well.  It is a big deal that the cast of this mainly gay collection of characters is played by a ground of openly, proud, gay men.  Jim Parsons, of Big Bang Theory fame is the highlight for me, really being the one to push the story along despite the party really being for and about Harold, who doesn’t even show up until about 45 minutes in.  The film also does a great job of showing what like must have been  like for millions of men around the world at this time, when being openly gay was frowned upon by most people.  There might be a lot of humour and craziness going on but the important issues are there, you just have to pay attention and see past the barrage of self-deprecating jokes.

However this film can’t quite shake it’s theatrical roots.  The dialogue is still very much that of a scripted play.  Even the staging of the sets and the framing of the shots give it the feel of a live stage performance rather than a feature film.  The layout of Michaels apartment even looks like it was set up for a stage play.  It would have been better to see the director make some creative changes with the presentation of the film to make it feel less like it’s source material.

A great story and great characters played by a great cast, shame about the execution though. 

Check it out for yourself on Netflix UK Now!

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