Well-acted and thoroughly poignant — The Boys in the Band revives the classic stage play back onto the small screen, showcasing modern relevance on the LGBTQ community.
The Boys in the Band is based on the 1968 off-Broadway play by playwright Mart Crowley. The play then ended up being turned into a 1970 movie with the same cast as the original production. What was so groundbreaking with Crowley's play, was his ability to evoke a deeply personal journey in the lives of gay men. In 2018, director Joe Mantello revived the play on Broadway, comprising a versatile cast of exclusively openly-gay actors. This cast included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins. All of the actors decided to reprise their roles, giving us a feast to behold of grade 'A' acting. Just like the 1968 original, Mantello constructed his crew from stage to film, giving us a deeply moving picture of what it means to be gay in America during the '60s. Mantello smoothly constructs his craft as we watch this spectacular cast of men bursting at the seams with anxiety, self-loathing, melancholy, and pride. Each character is deeply layered, guarding themselves against pitfalls of vulnerabilities that could lead to pain.
The plot follows a group of friends reuniting on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, who are throwing one of the members of their group, Harold (a condescending Zachary Quinto), a birthday party. Harold loathes each day as he grows farther away from his youth. In his character's own words, Harold is an "ugly, pock-marked Jew fairy." Michael (a cunning Jim Parsons), a recovering alcoholic and Roman Catholic, is the member of 'the band' who has opened up his apartment for the birthday. Michael is well-groomed, polite when he needs to be, and then will attack you like a snake if he disagrees with you. As the host and the frenemy, Michael will always have the last word, no matter the stakes. Michael and Harold often lash at each other, with cutting dialogue and patronizing remarks. The more Michael drinks, the more the night intensifies. Matt Bomer plays Donald, Michael's conflicted boyfriend who is gliding along with his own baggage.
Actors Andrew Rannells and Tuc Watkins portray Larry and Hank — a couple who have been fighting about what it means to be in a monogamous relationship. Larry is the free-spirited thinker of the relationship, often having multiple sex partners at a time. Larry's lack of commitment to the relationship; is why Hank is upset with him. Hank is a recently outed gay, who's in the middle of getting a divorce from his wife and is currently living with Larry. Robin de Jesús plays Emory, the most flamboyant and most prideful of the group. Emory is there to have a good time and to party with his fellow Queens on the rooftop of a hot summer night. No matter the pain, Emory can keep a smile from eye-to-eye, along with his good friend, Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington). Not only is Bernard gay, but he's also Black — dealing with both racism and homophobia in the '60s. Bernard is also grappling with the regret of a lost love that comes up during a shift in tone during the night when Michael introduces "the game." A series of calls made by each character to call up their long-lost love by telephone.
Charlie Carver plays the Cowboy, Harold's birthday hustler for the evening. Carver's character is often described as "too pretty" and "not too bright." Lastly, we are left with Alan (Brian Hutchison), Michael's friend from college, who makes an uninvited appearance at the party, stirring up conflict. Alan does not know that Michael is gay, but there's suspicion that Alan (who is married) has a dark secret of his past relationships. Alan's sexual orientation is never fully disclosed, leaving the audience to interpret the events of the night and to decide on their own. The Boys in the Band is one of the most bruising movies of the year, leaving our viewers to feel like they have been dragged through the mud. There's plenty of heavy material unveiled throughout the film's runtime — opening wounds and soothing tears. This perfect ensemble reaches for the stars as we grapple with heartache and the affliction of love waiting to come. We've come along way in America for inclusion to the LGBTQ community, yet we have a long way to go — making progress one step at a time. The Boys in the Band is an emotional whirlwind and literary dance waiting to be heard.
The Boys in the Band is rated R (Restricted). Sexual Content, Drug Use, Language, and Graphic Nudity.
Directed by Joe Mantello
Starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins.
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