Review: Boys On Film 17 – Love Is The Drug

Peccadillo Pictures bring us another eclectic selection of gay themed short films from across the globe for the seventeenths Boys on Film collection, titled, Love Is The Drug. The collection is available on DVD now.

Alex and the Handyman (Dir. Nicholas Colia, USA)

This blackly comic tale has lashings of Todd Solondz as it follows Alex, a nine-year old who develops a crush on his family’s masculine handyman, Jared. Ignored by his mother and the object of his affection, Alex, is a savvy young boy who will stop at nothing to gain the attention of the disinterested Jared. With the saccharine sweet Alex leading the tale, director Nicholas Colia unveils a gut-punching twist in the short’s horrifying/highly amusing final moments.

Mr. Sugar Daddy (Dir. Dawid Ullgren, Sweden)

Tackling themes of ageism in the gay community, we see an older man attracted to the youthful charisma of a younger man in a club. This melancholic short explores the gay experience in youth and the later years – capturing the disconnect and prejudicial attitudes in our apparently accepting community.

Spoiler Alert (Dir. Brendon McDonall, UK)

Leon meets the man of his dreams in a chance encounter on an airplane. What follows is a spontaneous encounter which reveals the depths of the pair’s blossoming relationship – hampered by their own personal insecurities. With narration that reveals the underlying doubts of the pair, there is a sweetness and irony that shines through in McDonall’s savvy, well-natured short.

Tellin’ Dad (Dir. André D Chambers, UK)

A year into his relationship, Dan decides to come out to his family members by writing them a letter.  Shot with a grey bleakness, Tellin’ Dad, captures the apprehension and fear of those about to come out. Chambers explores the range of attitudes that one can face within our own families when going through the coming out experience. Yet, Chambers’ subverts this dread in a joyous conclusion complete with a fun performance from Ricky Tomlinson.

Boys (Dir. Eyal Resh, USA)

Perhaps the weakest of the collection is Boys, which captures the first day of summer for Brian and Jake, where a normal sleepover sees unfamiliar desires rear their head. Darkly lit cinematography and a little bit too much ambiguity stops this from leaving much of an impact.

Hole (Dir. Martin Edralin, Canada)

Hole explores the isolation of a disabled man. He feels shunned by those around him and Edralin shoots the short with a sparse isolation. Our protagonist soon finds satisfaction through a glory hole, where he isn’t judged for his disabilities. Hole feels like its covering something that’s generally been explored regularly in gay-themed shorts. It would be refreshing to see a tale focussing on a disabled protagonist that takes a more empowering perspective – instead of one bogged down by morose isolation.

Happy and Gay (Dir. Lorelei Pepi, USA)

Lorelei Pepi brings a fresh contemporary awareness to classic 1930s cartoon aesthetics in the charming, powerful and amusing, Happy and Gay. This short follows two cartoon gay couples (inspired by classic Walt Disney B&W animation) heading out on the town for a big gay night out. They soon find themselves targeted by the police, homophobic public and the church. Happy and Gay is gorgeously animated and soundtracked, whilst presenting an accurate and accessible history of dated attitudes to homosexuality.

Pedro (Dirs. André Santos and Marco Leão, Portugal)

The shining jewel of BOF17 is Pedro, a Portuguese short that follows Pedro as he is reluctantly dragged to the beach by his mother. Upon arriving he’s not impressed by the mundane quiet of the beach, yet his interest is peaked when he catches the attention of a handsome stranger. With a synth-tinged score, a gorgeous lead, sun-baked cinematography and a scintillating sexual tension, Pedro is an outstanding contribution to the collection.

Kiss Me Softly (Dir. Anthony Schatteman, Belgium)

An unexpected kiss from a friend sends seventeen year old Jasper’s life with purpose and a new-found energy. He soon is faced with the challenge of coming out to his casually homophobic, fading popstar father. Kiss Me Softly is a quietly powerful, beautifully shot short that marks a strong end to another successful BOF collection.

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