›› Boys - Jongens
a film by Mischa Kamp.
2014 | 76 mins | Netherlands.
principal players: Gijs Blom / Sieger, Ko Zandvliet / Marc, Jonas Smulders / Eddy, Ton Kas / Theo, Stijn Taverne / Stef, Myron Wouts / Tom, Lotte Razoux Schultz / Jessica, Rachelle Verdel / Kim, Roosmarijn van der Hoek / Neeltje and Ferdi Stofmeel as the Coach.
Official Synopsis: "Sieger and Marc are part of an all-boys athletics club, training hard for the relay championships. During their lakeside summer days, an innocent friendship develops into something deeper, but coming to terms with these new emotions is a hurdle they have to overcome. At first, Sieger denies his attraction to Marc. But then, they kiss ..."
Once in a while along comes a film that takes you back to the carefree days of youth, a time when your first love was just a heartbeat away and sure enough there's a joyous feel of adolescent romance ingrained into the very celluloid of this captivating work, remarkably a telemovie that hits well above the benchmark of the format.
Going head-to-head for love, in Boys.
Directed with an abundance of TLC by Mischa Kamp, the story is in essence a lush telling of the boy-meets-boy scenario, one that finds teenager Sieger struggling with his burgeoning feelings for fellow athlete Marc, only for the man to have convinced himself that Sieger has fallen for local girl Jessica instead. And therein lies the emotional ups and downs of the piece, one that in many ways reminds me of Marco Kreuzpaintner's delightful film Summer Storm, given both works deliver the coming out narrative within the sporting arena. And like its German counterpart, this feature equally charms throughout, thanks in no small part to the vibrant screen chemistry between Gijs Blom as gay boy in denial Sieger and Ko Zandvliet as the ever unpredictable, yet easily hurt Marc, actors who having previously worked together on Maria Peters' powerful wartime tale of forbidden love that is Sonny Boy, here wonderfully showcase the mixed emotions of two young men coming to terms with their feelings for one another, heartfelt performances that are complimented by Jonas Smulders in the role of Sieger's rebellious brother Eddy, even if Roosmarijn van der Hoek as Marc's adorable little sister Neeltje comes close to stealing the show, so sweet 'n' natural are their scenes together.
Enhanced by the splendid cinematography of Melle van Essen that vividly captures the national park beauty of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug region of the Netherlands, together with a series of perfectly framed camera angles and complete with a lively score by Rutger Reinders, the result is an achingly realistic work that plays its tale of love and self-acceptance for all its worth, as stealing glances give way to a tender kiss or two, only for angst to enter the cinematic equation. All of which makes for a beautifully crafted story of first love and of one young man who comes to find in his boyfriend, the courage and strength to be his sexual self. The Dutch version of Beautiful Thing - undoubtedly and a film that surely is destined to become a gay classic, being touching, uplifting and strikingly honest. Simply wondrous.
And finally ...
Just to say that the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures have included the short film Even Cowboys Get to Cry on their DVD release of the film, a strong short that whilst from a different director, namely Mees Peijnenburg, does however feature Boys stars Ko Zandvliet and Jonas Smulders, with Smulders' further to be seen in the ensemble cast of Janne Schmidt's poignant short film Ballen - available on FreeView.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - from the waist up.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.