Boys (Jongens) is a feast for the eyes with gorgeous cinematography of the Dutch countryside, and equally beautiful actors, but with some variations on a theme, this is a tale that we’ve seen a hundred times before. Knowing how things will turn out, however, won’t t keep you from thoroughly enjoying it.
Quiet, withdrawn Sieger has just been promoted to his high school’s higher level track team where he meets the relaxed, outgoing Marc. The two hit it off right away, though Sieger backs off after their first kiss, claiming he’s not gay. With the intense training for an upcoming regional relay race, the two end up spending a lot of time together, both on and off the track. Sieger is clearly attracted to Marc but confused about what he wants, half-heartedly double-dating a girl with his friend Stef. Marc finds out, is understandably upset, and for a while it seems even the race is in jeopardy. But all’s well that ends well, as the two make up, their school handily wins the race, and they (literally) ride off into the sunset.
Though Boys‘ tropes are well-worn, in this case it’s the execution that matters. It’s a very sweet and beautifully produced movie, with fine acting, directing and the aforementioned visuals. One thing that sets it apart from similar movies, though is there is no big coming-out drama. In fact, no coming-out at all. During the course of the film Sieg and Marc never tell anybody they were dating, or that they liked boys. Stef does put two and two together when he wasn’t macking on his girlfriend, but he never said anything until the very end, and even then it was to be quietly supportive.
Traditionally teen coming-out stories are supposed to be accompanied by huge drama, anger, disownment or tears, with the occasional bashing from local bigots. But here? Apart from Sieg’s “I’m not gay” line, which can be taken any number of ways, there’s nothing to suggest being gay would be a big deal. Are things that relaxed in the Netherlands? Awesome if true.
Boys is not a perfect movie, but greatly enjoyable if you don’t mind its flaws. Come for the visuals, stay for the running tips.
Boys (Jongens) directed by Mischa Kamp. Written by Henk Burger, Jaap-Peter Enderle and Chris Westendorp. No further showings at the 2014 Vancouver Queer Film Festival.
Nicolas Demers is a web developer and blogger living in Vancouver’s West End. In his spare time he enjoys science-fiction, photography, and is actively involved with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association.