21 March 2010

House of Boys (Jean-Claude Schlim, 2009, Luxembourg/Germany/Netherlands)

I'm really at a loss for how to respond to this movie.

Fathom a hard-hitting, penetrating, sexy drama about the onset of the AIDS epidemic from the vantage point of notorious Amsterdam gogo club cum bordello House of Boys. Blend this idea with a very special episode of trendy British teen soap Skins and a love letter to 80s New Wave. Now imagine that almost every moment of it is played like a skit from French & Saunders Go to the Movies or something.
I mean, the first thing you'll notice is that in the version of the Benelux nations presented in this film everyone speaks varying degrees of accented English, whether at home or in the locker room at school. The absurd, ridiculous writing will not be lost on you. You'll also notice that in addition to deliriously awful writing the acting is also pretty bad. Very teen soap / afterschool special. In the scenes that were supposed to tragic I find myself with my face buried in my jacket so as not to offend everyone around me since I was laughing so hard at the tragic AIDS death of a complicated gogo boy far from Kansas. I couldn't tell how to take any of it serious. I can't say I didn't enjoy it because it's more complicated than that. This movie is almost aggressively campy and shockingly the least campy things about this movie are the drag queens, most of the time. I certainly had a good time at this movie even though I felt really conflicted about it because I sometimes felt a little disgusted at the way this tragedy was being inadvertently burlesqued. This movie seemed about as fucked up as Dogtooth but I'm not very sure this movie was in on the joke. Although the production values were unexpectedly high compared to my expectations, I don't know what to make of the fact that this won the Luxembourg Film Award. I suppose it's one of those things that come across in English as a second language. The emblematic moment for me was one where the dying guy's eyes are all crusted shut with KS (makeup effects were not so hot) and his boyfriend's giant teardrops are dropping on his crusty eye as he's carrying on about the situation. I wish I could remember some of the dialogue so you wouldn't think I'm just being a cynical bitch. I would totally watch this again though I suspect that it mightn't be as funny the second time around. C

1 comment:

  1. "This movie seemed about as fucked up as Dogtooth but I'm not very sure this movie was in on the joke."

    This movie is most definitely NOT in on the joke. Otherwise it wouldn't start with a dedication, a quote, two definitions, a voice-over, and more, all in the first 5 minutes!