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419. The Boys In the Band; movie review

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Title : 419. The Boys In the Band; movie review
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Cert 15
121 mins
BBFC advice: Contains very strong language, discriminatory language

The final film of 2020 was somehow appropriate in a year in which the world had to fight against adversity.
The Boys In The Band seems relatively tame nowadays but is an adaptation of one of the most daring theatre pieces of all time.
Mart Crowley's play was groundbreaking when it premiered off-Broadway in 1968 - a time when being gay was likely to cause outrage.
Indeed, those who took part were risking career suicide.
Fifty years later, the play returned but this time to Broadway and is recognised as helping spark a revolution.
Director Joe Mantello and the entire cast of that production returned to create a film for Netflix.
It is still set in 1968 in the Manhattan apartment of Michael (Jim Parsons), who is holding a birthday party for his friend Harold (Zachary Pinto).
The characters are introduced gradually, starting with Michael's on/off boyfriend Donald (Matt Bomer) whose 'psychiatrist' appointment has been cancelled.
The party preparations are then thrown off-kilter by a call from Michael's former college room-mate Alan (Brian Hutchison) who breaks down in tears and says he wants to come over for a drink.
By the time he arrives, the very heterosexual Alan finds himself at a gathering of proud gay men.
The combination of awkwardness and drink causes all sorts of histories and emotions to emerge.
For example, the relationship between Hank (Tuc Wakins) who has walked out on his wife to move in with Larry is under the microscope.
Then there is Robin de Jesús as Emory, a flamboyant and effeminate interior decorator, Michael Benjamin Washington as Bernard, an African-American librarian and Charlie Carver as a 'hustler'.
They all face introspection as Michael insists they play a game surrounding true love.
Let's face it, this was a movie which will resonate far more with gay men than it would with Mrs W and me.
We simply haven't had the same barriers to cross and we were quite surprised at the level of vitriol friends aimed at each other.
If I were at that party I would have left long before the end.
However, we can certainly say that the acting is of a high-quality and the dialogue cuts like sharpest of knives.
Crowley changed the world and we shouldn't forget it.

Reasons to watch: Adaptation of a groundbreaker
Reasons to avoid: More a theatre piece than a film

Laughs: Two
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 7.5/10

Did you know? The character of Harold was based on Howard Jeffrey, a film producer who had also choreographed for Broadway shows such as West Side Story.

The final word. Mart Crowley: ""It was very different back then. You could get arrested for doing the things they do in this play. It was quite awful and ridiculous and demeaning. Naturally, everybody's agent told them not to do this play. We offered the roles and many turned it down. Agents said it was a career killer. I have to acknowledge the bravery of the guys who did it anyway." Broadway.com

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