25 Great Gay Sex Scenes Saga – Movie #6: Dream Boy (2008)

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I know that this one has taken me a bit longer to put up, but that’s because I really had no idea how to go about reviewing this one… I still don’t, to be honest. The ending of this movie was so odd that it left me stumped for a couple of days, and I’m still no closer to understanding what really happened. When I found out that it was based on a novel, I actually hunted it down so that I could read it and hopefully come to a better comprehension of the end. However, a simple book synopsis led me to realise that the movie’s end apparently pretty much mirrored the novel’s, so I already know that that will be futile. Which is just as well, I suppose, because this is really supposed to be a review of the movie, and not the novel.

Title: Dream Boy

Actors:

Stephan Bender… Nathan

Maximilian Roeg… Roy

Director: James Bolton

Synopsis: Chronicles the relationship between two gay teenagers in the rural south in the late ’70s.

The Backlot Rating: (school bus scene)

Hotness – 6

Romance – 7

WTFactor – 0

Dream Boy is set in a small rural town, and explores the coming-of-age love story between Nathan and Roy, polar opposites in everything but their feelings towards each other. Nathan is extremely quiet, academically driven, and suffers from an almost crippling shyness, which is the result of an abusive father. Roy, however, is far more outgoing and goes through the motions of school out of mere obligation. In fact, it is Roy’s academic weakness which causes the two to first bond, as Nathan volunteers to help Roy with an English paper, despite being younger and in a lower grade. Roy’s weakness really seems to only be in English, though, as he reciprocates Nathan’s assistance by offering Math lessons (in which he is self-admittedly “pretty good”). The two quickly fall in love with each other, and this is the one beacon of light in an otherwise dark story.

As I’ve noted before, the one aspect of the movie which I most disliked was its bizarre ending. The movie was quite fine up until about two-thirds of its length. The introduction of a “haunted mansion” made things quickly and tremendously go downhill. While I do understand that the end of the film was supposed be psychologically stimulating and force the viewer to think, for some reason, I believe that there was an aspect of the novel which didn’t quite translate into film. Now, while I won’t argue that the movie produces confusion that isn’t found in the book, it’s been my experience that movie adaptations rarely do books justice, because there is often a more profound facet to reading that cannot be matched on camera. However, since I have yet to read the book, I’ll just leave it by stating a given, which is that the story (book/movie) has a very ambiguous end. While the movie deals with very powerful topics (young love, same-sex relationships, abuse, incest etc), the bulk of its narrative was more visual than it was auditory, which (in this particular instance) wasn’t necessarily always a good thing. What I mean by that is the dialogues presented in Dream Boy were severely lacking. As previously stated, Nathan is extremely shy and not prone to much talking, so I suppose that that may have contributed to this factor, but overall, the conversations in the film were very sparse, incredibly choppy and sometimes just plain awkward. Short of Roy’s ghost stories towards the end of the movie, ti often seemed that the characters of Dream Boy found it a painful task to string more than two sentences together at a single moment. Combined with their accent, it unintentionally gave off the stereotypical yet highly inaccurate perception that southerners are slow and dim-witted. As a result of this, it was hard, perhaps not to relate to the characters, but to fully appreciate them. They were endearing, sure, but other than what was explicitly stated on screen, we really didn’t get to know much about them. Case in point: if Roy’s mother hadn’t been shown in a very brief scene, we would have known almost nothing at all about his home life.

What the movie lacked in dialogue, it made up for in direction and cinematography, and I loved that. It really was a very visual movie, and this did work to its advantage at certain points. The love story between Nathan and Roy was also beautiful, if maybe a little awkward due to the innocence and unfamiliarity of the characters. Overall, the acting was mostly okay. I realise that this sounds sort of condescending, but it really isn’t. It’s just a tad difficult to fully appreciate the acting when the characters usually spoke a total of seven words every five minutes. The only noticeably bad acting (at least in my opinion) was of Randy Wayne, who played Burke. Perhaps he just didn’t really relate to the character, but it was sometimes almost painful to listen to him. His facial expressions, however, hit the mark every time, and I understood his character far more when he looked at Nathan than I did when he actually spoke. Without a doubt, the star performance of this entire movie was by Diana Scarwid, who played Nathan’s mother, a frightened and unhappy woman, who was struggling to keep up the appearance of normalcy despite knowingly living in the most horrific situation imaginable. While, in reality, I have zero tolerance and even less pity for mothers who are aware that their children are being abused by their (step)father, yet keep them in the situation, I have to admit that it was heart-breaking watching the struggle in this movie.

For the parts of the movie that I did understand, it was an enjoyable experience. I absolutely loathed the ending, but it was a reminder that not every story has a happy ending (or even an understandable one, evidently). My next mission is to read the novel, which I did manage to procure, and attempt to glean at least an iota of a clearer knowledge of what the hell went down at the end of Dream Boy. Feel free to wish me luck.

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