The Boys in the Band is directed by Joe Mantello and it is a new adaptation of the 1968 play by Mart Crowley. The story revolves around a group of gay friends who get together to celebrate a friend’s birthday. However when the host gets an unexpected invite from an old friend who happens to be straight, things get heated and tense very quickly. The movie stars an ensemble cast of openly gay actors featuring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Robin de Jesús, Michael Benjamin Washington, Tuc Watkins and Brian Hutchison.
The first thing thing I really want to address regarding this movie is the fact that the majority if not all of the cast and crew is part of the LGBTQ+ community. When it comes to a character that is a different sexuality or gender, I do not mind seeing straight actors portay them. In fact, Nick Robinson’s portrayal in Love, Simon is near and dear to my heart because of how real and relatable it was. That being said, more often than not, it is straight actors who get cast in LGBTQ+ roles. Obviously not all of those roles have to go to LGBTQ+ actors but it’s fair to say that there should be equal opportunities for both straight and non-straight actors. However, with all of that being said, I would be lying if I said this movie didn’t feel more authentic and safe for me.
The Boys In The Band shines a spotlight on all of the different facets of a gay person’s life. It captures that in a spectacular way by letting us observe these gay characters in a mostly stationary setting. While we get to see a couple different locations in the very beginning and even less at the very end, the movie makes it a priority to spend as much time in Michael’s (Jim Parsons) apartment. We get this very long scene with him and Matt Bomer where they just talk and it lasts for quite a while. When the party starts, it genuinely feels like I myself am there. This tactic works incredibly well and I’ve never seen a movie make it work as much as The Boys In The Band. When you get a group of actors portraying such complex, vulnerable characters and you make them interact with one another in a single setting for an incredibly long period of time, it feels genuine and raw.
When writing this review it felt odd referring to the characters as such because this didn’t feel like a movie. To say that about an LGBTQ+ story is an incredible compliment. Even though we are living in a the golden age of LGBTQ+ storytelling with m6any movies and tv shows featuring complex LGBTQ+ roles, I feel like The Boys In The Band is really the blueprint. I say that for two reasons. One being the fact that this originates from a play from 1968. The second being that there is a variety of personalities. Yes, there is a “stereotypical” gay character but there is nothing wrong with that here because there are gay people who genuinely act that way, my point is that this movie shows a diverse group of gay men. When you have an interesting group of characters, the location doesn’t really matter in fact in this case, the characters really elevate the setting.
When you get the cast from the 2018 Tony-Award winning Revival of the play, you expect nothing short of excellence and that is exactly what I got. As someone who never got past the halfway mark of The Big Bang Theory pilot, I can happily say that Jim Parsons made a fan of me. With his role in Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood and now this, (which Murphy also produced), Jim Parsons proves that he can take on complex characters who are clearly very unhappy by who they are. His performance here is quite honestly my favourite performance of the year so far. His delivery and physical performance is really interesting in the way that he doesn’t do anything outlandish, it’s a really subtle performance but when it demands emotion and pent up frustration and pain, Parsons fucking delivers. The rest of the cast is also wonderful. I loved Matt Bomer’s sarcastic and laid-back performance and I would genuinely like to hang out with Robin de Jesús’ Emory.
In the end, The Boys In The Band offered something new and refreshing with a lot of depth and care put into it. Unfortunately the movie is getting is not getting a lot of attention and truth be told, I wasn’t going to review it but I really wanted to help spread the word on how amazing this film is. The best part about this movie is that while it is targeted towards the LGBTQ+ community, it is really for everyone to enjoy so support this movie, it’s on Netflix, make a night out of it. You won’t regret it!