Friday, June 5, 2009

Boy

In the tradition of the macho dancer film, Boy tells the story of a young man working in the gay bars of the Philippines to not only support himself, but to be less of a burden on his family. What sets this new film of filipino director Auraeus Solito (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) apart from its predecessors is the story primarily following a patron of the macho dancer and not the macho dancer himself.

Our protagonist is an semi-openly gay young man of 18 who on a furtive trip to his first gay bar, falls in love with Aries. In order to come up with the money for Aries fee, a prized collection of comic books and action figure collectibles is sold, and the boys share a magical night on New Year's Eve with the protagonist's mother.

The story is about more than that first sexual encounter. As the story unfolds both young men let down their guard to each other as their growing love for each other becomes more apparent to not only the audience but to themselves.

The protagonist admits his disappointment with both his parents, his father for relegating he and his mother to secondary status and his mother for tolerating it, while Aries admits that his work is more than a way to support himself, but also a way to satisfy his needs to be wanted and desired by those watching him.

Boy was banned on the eve of its premier at the Singapore International Film Festival for "normalizing homosexuality" and for its erotic content. While there is some incidental nudity and sexual situations, the story is in no way overshadowed by these elements. In fact, the encounter between the boys takes on a pilgrim sonnet element from Baz Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet and is no longer a business transaction between a client and john, but instead a beautiful moment between two new lovers.

In the end Boy is a film which shows that young love can be found in all the wrong places and still thrive. SIFF and Seattle is to be applauded for receiving this film with warmth, understanding and acceptance in a world in which there is a need for more films that have a message as well as an entertaining purpose.

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