Sep 28 2011

Movie review: House of Boys

Published by at 01:32 under Articles,Delux,English

SOURCE: http://www.latimes.com

Exulting in a seedy showbiz glow a là “Showgirls,” but with twice the gyrating and a lot more soul, “House of Boys” is a coming-of-age extravaganza set in the gay club scene of 1984 Amsterdam. Against the odds, the indulgent mash-up of sex, old-fashioned corn, romance-novel fantasy and AIDS tragedy is a mostly winning combo. The performances have heart, and a sorrowful tenderness courses through the self-described “fairy tale,” even at its kitschiest.

Things happen quickly for Luxembourg teen Frank (Layke Anderson) after he escapes the provinces for life in the big city. He finds a home and a job at the titular establishment, the gay cabaret whose icy queen of an impresario, Madame (Udo Kier), is more pimp than den mother. Frank’s roommate, Jake (Benn Northover), the club’s star attraction, insists he’s not gay, just on the hustle, but Frank isn’t convinced.

The action moves from liberation to devastation, depicting the crucial emotional support of friends and lovers in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The medical establishment gets a compassionate face in the doctor portrayed by Stephen Fry.

First-time writer-director Jean-Claude Schlim celebrates the self-invention of his scenesters, and he uses music to potent effect, setting the club pantomimes and stripteases to some great songs. Among them are a few Roy Orbison classics that strike just the right note in a film that’s operatically exuberant and elegiac.

“House of Boys.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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SOURCE: http://www.latimes.com

Exulting in a seedy showbiz glow a là “Showgirls,” but with twice the gyrating and a lot more soul, “House of Boys” is a coming-of-age extravaganza set in the gay club scene of 1984 Amsterdam. Against the odds, the indulgent mash-up of sex, old-fashioned corn, romance-novel fantasy and AIDS tragedy is a mostly winning combo. The performances have heart, and a sorrowful tenderness courses through the self-described “fairy tale,” even at its kitschiest.

Things happen quickly for Luxembourg teen Frank (Layke Anderson) after he escapes the provinces for life in the big city. He finds a home and a job at the titular establishment, the gay cabaret whose icy queen of an impresario, Madame (Udo Kier), is more pimp than den mother. Frank’s roommate, Jake (Benn Northover), the club’s star attraction, insists he’s not gay, just on the hustle, but Frank isn’t convinced.

The action moves from liberation to devastation, depicting the crucial emotional support of friends and lovers in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The medical establishment gets a compassionate face in the doctor portrayed by Stephen Fry.

First-time writer-director Jean-Claude Schlim celebrates the self-invention of his scenesters, and he uses music to potent effect, setting the club pantomimes and stripteases to some great songs. Among them are a few Roy Orbison classics that strike just the right note in a film that’s operatically exuberant and elegiac.

“House of Boys.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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