‘Boys On Film #19: No Ordinary Boy’ reviewed

❉ There’s something for everyone in Peccadillo’s new Boys On Film collection.

Nineteen already? Not quite in Now That’s What I Call Music territory, but not a bad tally since the first collection of these LGBT+ short films was released back in 2009. This latest volume consists of 10 shorts running between 4 and 22 minutes, predominantly UK productions but also including work from India, America, Sweden and Denmark. They cover a variety of themes in a range of styles, and production values are admirably high.

The first film is Michael Joseph Jason John, starring and written/directed/produced/edited by Scott T Hinson – you can tell something’s a labour of love by how many roles filmmakers are willing to shoulder. Scott’s film starts with a random hook-up on a New York subway train and ponders what the outcome of the encounter might be. Will it be the beginning of a loving relationship, or lead to something much more sinister? Hinson doesn’t quite pull off the darker notes of the conceit, but the romantic elements are effectively realised and the film ends with a satisfyingly bitter-sweet resolution.

The Fish Curry is a Bengali animation revolving around the preparation of a fish curry dish which the closeted protagonist serves to his “When are you going to get married?” father. The dreaminess of the tone has charm, but there’s not enough story to sustain the running time (even short films can overstay their welcome) and the ending is frustratingly vague.

Almost the polar opposite is MEATOO, which makes the most of its brevity, and capitalises on a lack of narrative certainly to create intrigue. It concerns a film director putting an actor through his paces during an audition. And then something about sausages which I didn’t understand but rather enjoyed.

In Dusk, an elderly woman reflects on the difficult choices of her life in a world before children were encouraged to self-celebrate. Generational difference is also examined in Jermaine and Elsie, in which a care assistant forms a bond with an unpleasant old bigot.

Elsewhere in the collection we’re shown the formative years of an Arabic drag queen, a mysterious encounter in Copenhagen, a protracted break-up and an unusual first date. A highlight for me was Laurie Kynaston’s hypnotic dancing and beautifully understated emotional journey in Four Quartets, though I didn’t think the flashback sequences added anything to the story.

There should be something for everyone in this compilation, as long as that something is drama – this is a set of predominantly serious films which could do with an occasional comedy to vary the tone. The other news is that if Boys on Film 19 leaves you longing for more, we’re assured that Boys on Film 20 is “coming soon”…

❉ BOYS ON FILM 19: NO ORDINARY BOY released on DVD, Dual Format Edition (DVD + Blu-ray) and VOD Monday 25th February. Running time 135min. Cert: 15.

❉  Nick Myles is a London-based writer and director. His stage plays have been produced at numerous London theatres, and at both the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Festivals. He has also contributed to Big Finish’s range of Dark Shadows audio plays. Twitter: Nick Myles

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