In Mischa Kamp’s understated Boys, the wordless moments speak volumes. A lingering glance across the racetrack, a quiet tug of a drawstring hoodie as a gesture of apology, an idyllic, magic-hour swim in a lake that soon transforms into a blissful awakening – it demonstrates that the exquisite execution of details matter the most in Kamp’s portrait of first love. Sure, there isn’t much new to say about gay teen romance (unless John Waters or Grek Araki hit the scene and do a remix) – the subgenre is rundown with a cavalcade of clichés that it’s become a protocol for films like this to do the box-ticking – but Kamp intimately paints the story as if on entirely new canvas. It’s a well-worn story told sensitively, and no matter how familiar the burgeoning liaison between these two young, handsome ephebes seem to be, Kamp’s direction is ever so subtle that the characters feel worthy of your patience and care.[divider]+[/divider]
It’s a well-worn story told sensitively, and no matter how familiar the burgeoning liaison between these two young, handsome ephebes seem to be, Kamp’s direction is ever so subtle that the characters feel worthy of your patience and care.[divider]+[/divider]
In terms of narrative, Boys has very much in common with the Dutch film North Sea Texas, wherein two youths wrestle with intimate stirrings as a single parent quietly anguish on the backdrop, but where that film was relegated to the ‘coming out’ drama category (as well as hundreds of other films of the same ilk), Boys is neither interested in queer flag-waving nor making social commentary about gender politics. There’s no explicit self-declaration or big parental bust-ups or huge melodrama here. Kamp narrows her focus on internal conflict, the miniature yet universal undulation of feelings, the little confusions and betrayals, the quiet angst of boyhood set agains the pang of first heartbreak. It also helps that Kamp’s camera pulls you into her sensuous viewpoint, framing his actors in breathtaking close-ups that any marginal inner turmoil feels like a wave across the character’s faces. It’s an alluring style, but purposeful. Minimal yet consequential, with underplayed performances from actors Gijs Blom and Ko Zandvliet, who both make the blossoming relationship between Sieger and Marc feel authentic.
Boys DVD is out in UK stores 13 October, courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures.