Review: Peccadillo Pictures’ Boys On Film 24: Happy Endings (BOF24)

The last Boys On Film collection to be issued on DVD and Blu-Ray is the long-running series 24th entry. Subtitled Happy Endings, the eleven shorts assembled by Peccadillo Pictures present a realistic glimpse at queerness, love, sex and romance. As Happy Endings suggests, these tales are linked with a positivity – celebrating the transformative power of human connection.

You can order Boys on Film 24: Happy Endings from the Peccadillo Pictures online store. Read our review below.

WE COLLIDE (UK, 2023) – Dir. Jason Bradbury

Getting things off to a scintillating start, director Jason Bradbury captures the chaotic sweaty madness of the mosh pit, in this impressively crafted split screen short. At a punchy two minutes, We Collide gives us a rapid burst exploration of a fleeting romance – the kind where two eyes meet across a chaotic environment and a moment of calm connection occurs. Brought to life with Patrick Jonsson’s lively score and cinematographer Ben Cotgrove exploring the two stories of both protagonists through distinctive split screen, We Collide is a defiant, attention grabbing opener.

FIRSTS (NZ, 2022) – Dir. Jesse Ung

Jesse Ung’s Firsts explores the story of closeted student Steven (Kelvin Ta), who meets Andrew (David Shi) in the hopes of losing his virginity. Set in Steven’s small apartment, where an imposing portrait of his late father looms over, coming out has never been an option for the repressed Steven who packs an inherent nervousness at the thought – even telling his mother that he has a girlfriend. Capturing a sense of the cultural pressure to conform to heterosexual norms, Firsts packs a delicate romantic core with the hesitant Steven being guided through the stages of a hook-up from the sensitive, responsive Andrew.

SEA SPARKLES  (Uruguay, 2022) – Dir. Diego Alvarez Parra

The stunning Uruguay set Sea Sparkles sees Lucas (Enzo Vogrincic) readying to depart his homeland but a chance romantic encounter with Juan (Alejandro Mata Molina) causes him to rethink what he truly wants in life. Parra crafts a quietly seductive tale that encourages us to stop and appreciate the beauty of life. The uptight Lucas is driven by a desire to escape his homeland – a dislike for no clear reason, whilst the charismatic Juan encourages his romantic partner to embrace a slower paced appreciation for home. The gentle dialogue between the pair is encapsulated in a poignant closing number exploring the titular sea sparkles.

ALOOF (Israel, 2020) – Dir. Itai Jamshy

Slightly more disjointed is Aloof in which shy photographer Yariv (Nadav Portiansky) is tasked with taking photos at a family party, the photographs he takes highlight his problematic relationship with his brother, and increasingly intertwine to his extreme sexual experiences at a gay sauna. The links between Yariv’s family life and these subsequent cruising experiences, never quite connect – Yariv’s motivations and feelings never feel transparent. Director Itai Jamshy crafts a voyeuristic energy in the scenes at the sauna, whilst Nadav Portiansky’s performance is one of a slow burning unease, but this short lacks in impact.

THE REV (UK, 2021)  – Dir. Fabia Martin

The darker shades of Aloof are balanced by the flamboyant pop of The Rev from Fabia Martin in which a small town vicar in the throes of an identity crisis relives his raving past while attempting to organise an impromptu funeral. Vicar Neil’s daily life in his sparsely attended church is made up of lifeless services, flat games of bingo and microwave meals, yet an unexpected phone call from an old friend reveals the Vicar’s partying past. Soundtracked by Promised Land from Joe Smooth, The Rev is a high energy number brimming with escapist colour and light channelled in a carefree turn from Jack Holden.

PRELUDE – (Colombia 2019) – Dir. Sara Larota and Alejandro Sandoval

Samuel (Sandoval), a committed piano student preparing for a crucial contest, meets Camilo (Andrés Jiménez), an easygoing actor at a party. Camilo’s unconventional advice to play with closed eyes helps Samuel realize that musical expression, akin to love, demands a profound personal connection beyond mere technique. Soundtracked with powerful classical soundtrack, contrasted by energetic club-set night scenes, Prelude is a sultry and romantic short. Perhaps too delicate and slight to be remembered beyond a first watch, however.

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER (France, 2021)  – Dir Benjamin Belloir

The strongest of the shorts in BOF24 is Benjamin Belloir’s comic farce Beautiful Stranger. This glimpse into a chaotic rebound explores Romain (Baptiste Carrion-Weiss), in his thirties, recently experiencing a breakup with his boyfriend. Feeling lonely yet hopeful for romance, he decides to explore a dating app and unexpectedly meets two intriguing individuals at a two-star hotel. With supporting performances from the hunky Shane Woodward and the wonderfully over-zealous Daphné Huynh, Beautiful Stranger finds humour in Romain’s struggle to adjust to the fast-paced world of hook-ups, yet further engages in its dramatic undertones exploring the complexities and expectations regarding romantic relationships, sex and dating. Brimming with well-shot cinematography, DoP Maxence Lemonnier crafts a whole world in a small hotel room, whilst dazzling performances further ensure Beautiful Stranger is a joy.

YOU LIKE THAT (UK, 2023) – Dir. Jeremy McClain

The stunning Edinburgh brings You Like That to life, with the city’s rich classical character providing a picturesque setting for this tale of consent to unfold. Jeremy McClain writes, directs and leads this short which explores a young American student who longs for the love he’s heard about in 19th-century literature. With a near poetic direction, McClain captures scenic greenery – depicting lush Victorian gardens and classical architecture to craft visuals akin to that of a period piece. Hazy dreamlike visuals and nods to the work of artists such Caravaggio fill this striking short, which simmers with a gracefully eloquent energy. McClain inventively pairs this timeless imagery with the realities of modern life – introducing themes of sex work, adult content creation, and consent into this classical romantic landscape.

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY (France, 2021)  –  (Dir. Arthur Cahn)

Arthur Cahn’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday explores Romain and Adémar’s relationship as they spend three days together in the idleness of a French summer. Brimming with Benjamin Rufi’s cinematography which captures the greenery and natural life, the short interestingly draws inspiration from Arnold Lobel’s vintage Frog and Toad picture books. Both leads delicately explore the pair’s relationship in this woozy, visually striking piece.

L’HOMME INCONNU (Belgium, 2021)  –  Dir. Anthony Schatteman

L’Homme Inconnu is an absorbing short set against the idyllic backdrop of the Côte d’Azur, where Louis (Geert Van Rampelberg) seeks inspiration to cure his writer’s block. His encounter with a mysterious couple, the chiselled Tommy (Samuel Suchod) and his girlfriend (Anna Sacuto), introduces elements of fantasy and desire. Director Anthony Schatteman masterfully portrays Louis’ attraction through a male gaze, exploring themes of lust and the allure of youthful physicality. The film’s lingering gazes and poetic summer setting beautifully reflect Louis’ internal journey for creative fulfilment.

S.A.M. (UK, 2020)  –  Dir.  Neil Ely and Lloyd Eyre-Morgan

S.A.M. is a heart-warming short film directed by Neil Ely and Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, depicting the unlikely bond that forms between two boys at their local park swings. This portrayal of teenage relationships offers a refreshing perspective, blending queerness and disability to present a narrative of young romance that feels authentic and poignant. The film courageously explores the judgment faced by individuals from different backgrounds – whether linked with class or disability – highlighting themes of friendship, acceptance, and the resilience of those who often feel like outcasts in society. Through genuine performances from Sam Retford and George Webster, paired with a touching storyline, S.A.M. delivers a powerful message about the beauty of connection and the importance of embracing diversity.

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