Saturday, 19 June 2010

USA versus Slovenia: The Boys In The Band

I saw this at a film festival when I was living in Italy. My girlfriend at the time marked it as one she wanted to see, so I went in with few preconceptions. This is usually the best way to watch a film, I find.

The film (based on a play) centres around a group of men, all except one are gay. The dynamic between the range of stereotypes, from full-on queen to straight-acting to (one assumes) repressed and in denial, is what propels the storyline.

Since it was filmed in the seventies, the period feel only serves to increase the feeling of high camp. In fact, it’s quite liberating to see such overblown stereotypes be given a proper dramatic narrative, rather than have them simply in comedic roles that they usually got in the seventies. Although, at first it can be a little odd, but before long you start to accept their various quirks and settle down to follow the storyline.

However, I can understand the reputation the film has acquired as being an Uncle Tom for the gay community. The conclusion of the film is that the main character breaks down in tears, exclaiming how much he hates himself (as I recall). It kind of undermines the previous events, and while certainly dramatic it’s quite an odd note to end on.

But as a period piece, it’s fascinating. And if you don’t read it as a commentary on the gay community, and take it at face value that it’s a story about these particular individuals, it’s an entertaining and engaging film.

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