THE BOYS IN THE BAND REVIEW : PACKS A PUNCH

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Story: A guest crashes a group of gay men at a birthday party in 1968, New York City.

Review: Based on the 1968 play of the same name by Mart Crowley, this film adaptation stars the same cast who revived the celebrated play on Broadway in 2018. Seven friends gather at Michael’s (Jim Parson) apartment at a party for Harold’s (Zachary Quinto) birthday. As Michael and his ex-boyfriend Donald (Matt Bomer) prepare for the rest of the group to arrive, Michael’s ex-roommate from college, Alan (Brian Hutchison), calls him. Alan is distraught, so Michael reluctantly asks him to join the party. Michael then cautions the group, Larry (Andrew Rannells), Emory (Robin de Jesus), Hank (Tuc Watkins) and Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington), that Alan is straight, so they need to restrain themselves in his presence. As the evening unfolds, each of their pasts and secrets begin to spill out.

These men are indeed friends, but they’re also burdened by societal pressure and the prevalent attitude towards homosexuality. Despite accepting their sexuality, they also internalise their self-loathing. As the alcohol dulls their sense of restraint, the group’s camaraderie is repeatedly tested, leading to surprising and heartfelt revelations. This particularly holds true for the host Michael. Jim Parsons manoeuvres through the darkest pits of Michael’s persona, stemming from religious guilt and fueled by age.On the other hand,Zachary Quinto gives us a slightly less caustic, but equally bitter rendition of Harold. Some of the film’s most impactful scenes involve the two actors verbally sparring with each other. While the rest of the cast have their significant moments, Brian Hutchison and Robin de Jesus are memorable. However, Matt Bomer feels underutilised as Donald.

Contained mostly within Michael’s apartment, director Joe Mantello maintains the play’s cadence. The stakes aren’t immediately apparent, and this leans heavily on the film’s first half. Some of the flashbacks and segues tend to be distracting. But as the history of these characters comes to light, their simmering tensions begin to boil. The stories of these gay men are not as far removed from present reality as one would think. Although written in 1967, the dated play still packs a punch. The result is an earnest look into the murky misconceptions about sexuality and what it means to discover your identity.