Apr 29 2010

From comedy to melodrama in House of Boys

Published by at 01:28 under Articles,English

SOURCE: http://cineuropa.org/newsdetail.aspx?lang=en&documentID=143930

“My kingdom for a comedy”, invoked audiences of the Turin GLBT Festival, surrounded by all kinds of dramas. At first, House of Boys, the feature debut by Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Schlim, seemed it would satisfy them but instead, divided into three chapters plus an epilogue (each increasingly weaker), the film steadily changes tone, belying expectations.

The first chapters (“My World”) begin in the spring of 1984, with the arrival in Amsterdam of Frank (Layke Anderson), a young gay man fleeing his wealthy family, who “feels sexy” and finds works and freedom in the titular nightclub, run by “Madame” Udo Kier (his transvestite musical numbers are not to be missed). Frank is quickly promoted from barman to the stage, which he steals from Jack (Benjamin Northover, soon to be seen in the last Harry Potter), a straight American not entirely convinced of his sexuality.

After some initial disagreements, the two begin a relationship and that endures competition, jealousies and shared clients. However, “The Power of Love” (the second act) is quickly forced to face the “Problems of the World” (the third chapter). “There is no gay cancer”, says doctor Stephen Fry: Jack has AIDS.

In other words, there’s a bit of everything. There are films that are very “generous” in their subjects, turning points, and tones, despite making heads spin, and other that simply hang idly. Unfortunately, House of Boys falls among the latter. Although the director’s desire to tinge the comedy with melodrama is commendable by plunging it into tragedy the story becomes increasingly flatter and more television-like. There are too many subplots that are barely alluded to (like flashbacks of Jack’s “western” childhood), and too many endings (with a postcard-perfect epilogue in Morocco) that also become flat and television-like. Which not even the great period soundtrack la (Hendrix, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, D.A.F.) can redeem.

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SOURCE: http://cineuropa.org/newsdetail.aspx?lang=en&documentID=143930

“My kingdom for a comedy”, invoked audiences of the Turin GLBT Festival, surrounded by all kinds of dramas. At first, House of Boys, the feature debut by Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Schlim, seemed it would satisfy them but instead, divided into three chapters plus an epilogue (each increasingly weaker), the film steadily changes tone, belying expectations.

The first chapters (“My World”) begin in the spring of 1984, with the arrival in Amsterdam of Frank (Layke Anderson), a young gay man fleeing his wealthy family, who “feels sexy” and finds works and freedom in the titular nightclub, run by “Madame” Udo Kier (his transvestite musical numbers are not to be missed). Frank is quickly promoted from barman to the stage, which he steals from Jack (Benjamin Northover, soon to be seen in the last Harry Potter), a straight American not entirely convinced of his sexuality.

After some initial disagreements, the two begin a relationship and that endures competition, jealousies and shared clients. However, “The Power of Love” (the second act) is quickly forced to face the “Problems of the World” (the third chapter). “There is no gay cancer”, says doctor Stephen Fry: Jack has AIDS.

In other words, there’s a bit of everything. There are films that are very “generous” in their subjects, turning points, and tones, despite making heads spin, and other that simply hang idly. Unfortunately, House of Boys falls among the latter. Although the director’s desire to tinge the comedy with melodrama is commendable by plunging it into tragedy the story becomes increasingly flatter and more television-like. There are too many subplots that are barely alluded to (like flashbacks of Jack’s “western” childhood), and too many endings (with a postcard-perfect epilogue in Morocco) that also become flat and television-like. Which not even the great period soundtrack la (Hendrix, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, D.A.F.) can redeem.

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